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Category Archives: Fair Use

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The Juice Runs Out for Yankee Parody Trademarks

Posted in Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Trademarks, TTAB

A good general business practice is to apply to register trademarks early. You’ll find out if there is an issue. You’ll have time to change rather than having to take everything off the shelf under the threat of a lawsuit. Yet a recent decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in New York Yankees Partnership… Continue Reading

Remember the Alamo® but Don’t Forget the License.

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks

With hard pressed economic times, state and local governments have turned to new sources of revenue: intellectual property licensing. The City of New York has been in the game for decades, licensing use of its the I ♥ NY symbol. San Francisco enforces its rights in the image of its BART transit pass. And Portland is… Continue Reading

Imported from “Dertroit”

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking

Readers of the blog know the dangers of selling unlicensed apparel and the oft-litigious stance of Major League Baseball when it comes to defending its marks.  But a recent viral t-shirt phenomenon may just be one time the MLB should call off the dogs — or the “BEISBOLCATS,” as it were. The story begins with Dee’s Barber Shop,… Continue Reading

Yea or Neigh: Does “walmart.horse” Dilute the WALMART mark?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

For every serious-minded, informative website out there (I submit for your consideration this august blog) there are countless others that lean more towards the absurd. The website “walmart.horse” is squarely in the latter column. But can something so lighthearted also constitute trademark infringement? According to Ars Technica, a cartoonist named Jeph Jacques (author of the… Continue Reading

What Do Gripe Sites Have to Do with SCOTUS’s B&B Hardware Decision?

Posted in Domain Names, Fair Use, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks, TTAB

In December, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in B&B Hardware v. Hargis Industries. The case addresses the level of deference to be given to decisions from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, if any. We’ve discussed the issue a number of times at DuetsBlog. I’d love to provide you with breaking news, but still… Continue Reading

Single-Letter Trademark Battles: Who Gets the W for “W”?

Posted in Advertising, AlphaWatch, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Infringement, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

How much trouble can a double-U make?  If you’ve been following this blog over the years, you know the answer: quite a lot. This blog has written extensively on the trials and tribulations that may accompany single-letter trademark applications, and the letter “W” in particular.  You may then conclude, quite correctly, that a whole lot… Continue Reading

Crafting an Effective Fair Use Defense

Posted in Advertising, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Trademarks

The beer industry is rife with trademark legal issues. We’ve discussed quite a few here, including disputes over brewery names, attempts to register as a trademark the design of a beer glass, or the longstanding issue of whether all alcoholic products are related for likelihood of confusion purposes. Because of the importance of the beer… Continue Reading

Take Down for “Chinatown”?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Sight, Trademarks

Famous brand owners, take note: a Turkish artist and designer named Mehmet Gozetlik recently released “Chinatown,” a mesmerizing series of photographs in which neon lights depict famous design marks, with the word mark replaced by its generic wording in Chinese.  Is your brand one of them? The Pepsi logo, for example, has been recreated in… Continue Reading

The NFL’s Super Bowl Trademark Nonsense

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Fair Use, First Amendment, Infringement, Marketing, SoapBox, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It’s that time of year again. Time to tiptoe around and avoid use of or make any reference to the Super Bowl. Whoops. Anyway, we’ve discussed this phenomenon before: Insuring a Great Super Bowl Trademark Fight Fair Use of Super Bowl Trademark? Super (Bowl) Sunday, Ads Coming Soon Advertisers — fearful of NFL legal action… Continue Reading

Unicorns and Beer: A Match Made in Portland

Posted in Branding, Fair Use, First Amendment, Goodwill, Infringement, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Hipsters and Portland go together like…. hipsters and Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR). So naturally, when PBR decided to host a music festival, they chose Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately for PBR, some of their choices along the way have caused the city of Portland to schedule a vote to decide whether to sue them. It turns out,… Continue Reading

iOS 8: Bigger, faster, but still not a valid trademark (yet)

Posted in Fair Use, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

Although the iPhone 6 was the headliner, Apple’s release of iOS 8 was a respectable supporting act. Unfortunately though, the negative headlines keep coming in as poor performance reviews have kept more than half of Apple users from downloading the new operating system (your dear author included among them). Apple received some additional bad news… Continue Reading

How Many Hours of Energy Do You Need to Protect a Brand?

Posted in Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Guest Bloggers, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

- Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC The reason Bhargava has won is that he plays tough. Sitting in that cemetery are a dozen or so neon copycats with names like 6-Hour Power and 8-Hour Energy. Each has been sued, bullied or kicked off the market by Living Essentials’ lawyers. In front of each are… Continue Reading

Put it on Ice: ALSA Abandons ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE Trademark Applications

Posted in Branding, Fair Use, First Amendment, Goodwill, Marketing, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, USPTO

(Bill Gates putting his own spin on the ice bucket challenge) So there is a thing called the ice bucket challenge. In case you haven’t heard of it, you can read about it here (while you’re at it, you may want to read up on the internet, color television, and greek yogurt). In fact, Matt… Continue Reading

Don’t Litter, Eh?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Trademarks

The Toronto Globe and Mail recently reported on a clever anti-littering campaign that was launched and quickly aborted in Toronto due to trademark concerns.  The premise for the campaign was to take wrappers and packaging from some well-known brands and position it to create words describing litterers–words like dipstick, dumb, lazy, lowlife, pig, etc.  While… Continue Reading

Blue 42. Set. Trademark! I mean, Hike!

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Goodwill, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sound, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television, Touch, Trademarks, USPTO

Can you feel it? All around the country, fields are being groomed, stenciled, and painted. Tonight, the college football season begins with Georgia State taking on Abilene Christian in what could be a preview of one of hundreds of games that most of us don’t really care about. But like so many fans around the country, I’ll… Continue Reading

Colors, Words, and Colours: Pink with Envy

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, International, Law Suits, Trademarks

It has been nearly a year since we posed the age-old question: Does this Pink Clash with My Pink? Okay, so it’s not that old of a question. In fact, most of you (readers) may not have ever considered the inquiry. I guess I should clarify, by “clash with” I mean “infringe.” By “Pink” I… Continue Reading

This Little Piggy Went to the Trademark Office…

Posted in Articles, Fair Use, Goodwill, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sound, Trademarks, USPTO

When was the last time you thought about pigs? What do you think when you hear the word “pigs?” Or an OINK OINK noise? Or what about the angelic and oh-so-American, “SOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEYY!”? Well, the University of Arkansas contends that you’re probably thinking about the Arkansas Razorback sport teams. And they convinced the U.S. Patent and Trademark… Continue Reading

Believe what you want, but who will win?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Goodwill, Infringement, Trademarks, USPTO

In case you were unaware, the (Men’s) World Cup happened over the last two months and is now over (the Women’s World Cup is next year, in Canada). I Believe that if you followed Team USA at all, you probably heard the infectious chant of I —— I BELIEVE ——- I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!… Continue Reading

Update: Ikea Voids the Warranty on its Demand Letter

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Goodwill, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

A few weeks back, we discussed IKEA’s claim of trademark infringement against the popular website, IKEAhackers.net, and the resulting online backlash. In what’s become an increasingly common result, IKEA has reportedly backed off from its demand letter: We want to clarify that we deeply regret the situation at hand with  IKEAhackers. It has of course… Continue Reading

ED Ads: Humor From Across the Pond

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, Goodwill, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television

On this last day of the month, we are shedding almost all seriousness to stand at attention while examining some recent London taxi cab humor — from the perspective of Lloyds Pharmacy — about treating the affliction of erectile dysfunction (ED) with six pound pills and a healthy dose of laughs: One of the things I learned… Continue Reading