DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Wes Anderson

View my professional biography

As far back as I can remember, I've been fascinated with graphic design, visuals, and branding. I like to trace this back to my seventh birthday, when I was presented with a copy of Marc Okkonen’s Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century. The book is a series of photographs cataloging the uniform history of every team in Major League Baseball. It’s considered the definitive history of baseball uniforms -- if you’re into that kind of thing.

I pored over that book throughout my childhood, memorizing the minute year-to-year uniform and logo tweaks of my beloved Chicago Cubs. For a seven-year-old kid, there may be no stronger brand than a favorite baseball team. After all, fans root for laundry -- it’s the logo on the cap and jersey that lives on long after a favorite player retires or gets traded out of town. I certainly didn’t decide to pursue trademark law at that point (I was too busy planning my career as the next Mark Grace), but in hindsight it has been a natural fit.

Many years later, as an intern at an IP boutique firm, I worked on a trade dress infringement case between two giants of the toilet paper industry. There are few better opportunities to receive a crash course in the world of toilet paper: from market research, to branding, to production. I quickly learned that trademarks are everywhere, even (or perhaps especially) in the bathroom. It was three-ply excitement from start to finish, and I was hooked.

When I’m not working, you’ll probably find me on the golf course, messing with gadgets, or basking in the frivolity of Chicago sports.

Posts by Wes Anderson

A Faster, Sleeker Milk Jug

Posted in Food, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Taste

Another for the file of newly-registered product configuration marks: acquired distinctiveness, sold by the gallon. According to 2014 numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans drink 37 percent less milk than they did in 1970. Whole milk consumption has plummeted by 78 percent during the same period. The dairy industry has spent countless millions on advertising, and… Continue Reading

HAVANA CLUB: Where’s the Rum Gone?

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts

You’d probably assume no TTAB proceedings originated in 1995 remain active, but the HAVANA CLUB dispute has some serious staying power. As U.S.-Cuba relations unthaw, one particular trademark battle is also returning to the public eye: the battle between Bacardi and the Cuban government for rights to the HAVANA CLUB mark. A peek at the USPTO database… Continue Reading

The Hashtag / Trademark Paradox: #Trending, but #Proprietary?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking

As the hustle and bustle of the INTA 2016 Annual Meeting drew to a close yesterday, I reflected on the session “#HASHTAGS #EverythingYouNeedToKnow” from Tuesday. It seems trademark protection may not (yet) fit comfortably into the hashtag world. DuetsBlog previously provided a helpful tutorial on the nuts and bolts of hashtags and how they function, particularly on the sites Twitter and… Continue Reading

For Trademark Demand Letters, Every Letter Counts

Posted in Food, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Taste, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It has not been a great week for oatmeal. The Quaker Oats Company (a subsidiary of food and beverage giant PepsiCo), on the heels of a recall for its Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars, has also made a rather embarrassing gaffe on the trademark enforcement front. And unfortunately, demand letters are far more difficult to recall. Evidently, an in-house trademark attorney at… Continue Reading

Apple’s Quest for the “Ownable” Mark

Posted in Articles, Marketing, Social Networking, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Trademarks

No company’s branding strategy is studied more meticulously than Apple, Inc.’s — and of late, Apple has taken a turn for the descriptive with its various operating systems. Every company wants its brands to be distinctive — and the arbitrary APPLE mark is among the most well-known. But its new operating system naming strategy has relied… Continue Reading

Is BETTER BURGER a Done Deal for Chipotle?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Idea Protection, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, USPTO

When it comes to a big company’s trademark filings, the publicly available and freely searchable Trademark Office database can provide great fodder for the media. But don’t believe everything you read: an intent-to-use trademark application is far from gospel. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. stoked the flames of speculation with an application for the mark BETTER BURGER earlier… Continue Reading

Scandalous and Disparaging Marks: The Race to the Trademark Office Is On

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Idea Protection, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Owners of scandalous, immoral, or disparaging marks are on notice: now is the time to place your $275 bet with the USPTO. And soon, the Trademark Office database may be “NSFW.” Last Thursday, the USPTO issued Examination Guide 01-16 to address the impact of recent federal court decisions on Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act. That section prohibits registration of… Continue Reading

Make “Trademark” Great Again: No More Verbing!

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Idea Protection, Marketing, SoapBox, Trademarks

In the media, misstatements and misunderstandings of trademark law are legion.  Even the New York Times counts itself among the latest offenders. The Old Grey Lady’s recent article about presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump closed with the following: Records show just one Goldman employee, a financial adviser in the wealth management division, has donated to Mr. Trump… Continue Reading

A Fine Mess: YouTube’s Reaction to REACT

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

In the world of YouTube, subscriber count is king. With over 14 million subscribers, the Fine Brothers seemed at the forefront of new media. But earlier this month, the Internet’s collective scorn for a trademark portfolio sent the Fine Brothers’ subscription count tumbling. If you haven’t been following Benny and Rafi Fine of the Fine Brothers (during your non-work… Continue Reading

Bright Bulbs Bring Bank Branding Battle

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Marketing, Technology, Television, Trademarks

Just as the Minnesota Vikings exceed expectations this year and push into the NFL playoffs, the Vikings’ still-unfinished new stadium is producing some interesting (if not expected) branding-related litigation. A major topic of conversation here in the Twin Cities is the 2016 opening of U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings’ new home built on the site… Continue Reading

Imitating MILANO Cookies? Pepperidge Farm Remembers.

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Taste, Trademarks, USPTO

When a company puts “DISTINCTIVE” on its own packaging, its usually a sign that it highly values its trade dress and product configuration rights. That’s certainly the case for Pepperidge Farm and its Milano cookies. The commercial bakery giant has taken aim at Trader Joe’s, the popular grocery chain, for selling house-branded “Crispy Cookies” that… Continue Reading

“Oh, no: Beta!”

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Branding, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Television

As we gather with family and friends to give thanks this holiday here in the U.S., let’s look back and think of those that won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving dinner table. For me, BETAMAX comes to mind. What’s that, you say? BETAMAX, the video cassette format that unsuccessfully battled VHS in the 1980s, has… Continue Reading

Orwellian Enforcement of Orwellian Copyright?

Posted in Advertising, Copyrights, False Advertising, Infringement, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology

George Orwell’s famous novel 1984 would describe this situation as “doubleplusungood.” Josh Hadley, an internet radio host and a self-described “harsh film critic with no sense of subtlety or tact,” recently met the ire of Orwell’s estate when he used CafePress to create a t-shirt design with the text “1984 Is Already Here” emblazoned over tattered movie posters…. Continue Reading

The Clinton Trademark Clause?

Posted in Famous Marks, Infringement, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

At this early stage in the 2016 election cycle, it’s difficult to predict much of anything, but if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and, ultimately, the presidency, I can say for certain it will have an unprecedented effect on a lesser-known quirk of trademark law. Many practitioners and laypersons are familiar with the provisions… Continue Reading

Apple and The World’s Most Public Privacy Policy

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Contracts, Marketing, Search Engines, Technology, Trademarks

It bears mentioning when one of the world’s most famous brands releases one of the world’s most prominent and readable privacy policies. That’s just what Apple did this week, and the message to other brands is clear – privacy policies can be a massive marketing opportunity, not just an obscure legal nuisance. Every business that… Continue Reading

RECOVERY from a Surprise Genericness Refusal?

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Genericide, Infringement, Trademarks, USPTO

Reliant Beverage Co., makers of “Recovery Water,” has an endorsement from Russell Wilson and heaps of buzz surrounding the purported benefits of its products and “nanobubbles,” but thanks to some errors from both Reliant and the PTO, a federal trademark may be out of reach. Reliant applied for the RECOVERY WATER mark back in March, and soon… Continue Reading

Tastes Like Chicken, Not a Copyright

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Copyrights, False Advertising, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Taste, Trademarks, USPTO

A common refrain: “There must be a way to protect this idea, either by trademark or copyright.” Regrettably, in many instances, the answer is “none of the above.” Take, for example, the humble chicken sandwich. Late last week, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a granted motion to dismiss with a holding… Continue Reading

Sony’s “Lens-Style Camera” Trademark: Shuttered by the PTO?

Posted in Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Technology, Trademarks

Here’s another fascinating pending application for the file of non-traditional product configuration marks — this time, an application from Sony for the configuration of an all-in-one lens/camera: The drawing may look like an ordinary camera lens – cylindrical, familiar, and generally seen affixed to a fancy DSLR. But the application identifies “Digital cameras” in Class… Continue Reading

Beme, or BeHBO / BeShowtime / BePayPerView?

Posted in Advertising, Audio, Branding, Copyrights, Fair Use, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking

It has been a tumultuous year for copyright owners. The old cliche is “if you love something, set it free,” but it seems plenty of third parties are happy to take on that task when it comes to copyrighted content. Now that mainstream smartphones allow anyone to capture high definition video, mobile apps in particular have been fertile ground… Continue Reading

A Smörgåsbord of Standard Characters

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks

Strolling around the Mall of America last weekend, I was surprised not only by the rather low weekend crowds (everyone must have retreated to their respective lake cabin) but also the brand-new store for Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven. What with my highly-attenuated Swedish ancestry, I couldn’t help but stop in. The company’s perhaps best known for its… Continue Reading

¿Por Que, JUANITO FÚTBOL?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Social Media, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

In the fall of 2012, an upstart freshman quarterback at Texas A&M named Johnny Manziel earned the moniker “Johnny Football” during an incredible season, leading the Aggies to a number of huge wins. Yet after three years, a Heisman Trophy, and a shaky rookie season in the NFL, Manziel has yet to secure a trademark registration for… Continue Reading

Facebook vs. DESIGNBOOK: Is Anybody Watching?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Infringement, Social Networking, Technology, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

One might assume that Facebook, the ubiquitous social media platform that aggregates and analyzes nearly 1 billion users‘ data, would know every nook and cranny of the USPTO trademark database.  Apparently, that’s not quite the case. Various news outlets have reported recently that a Vermont startup named Designbook has received the demand letter nasty-gram from Facebook (no reference to Facebook… Continue Reading

Trademark vs. Copyright: Avoid the HAVOC

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Copyrights, Famous Marks, Idea Protection, Infringement, Television, Trademarks

I’ve come across yet another college-hoops related trademark dispute — but what’s even more interesting is the way the AP covered the story. It’s a reminder that we IP lawyers can and must dispel any public confusion between the different forms of intellectual property. Shaka Smart, the longtime basketball head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University,… Continue Reading