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Category Archives: Food

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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

Will Marketing Pitfall Lead to Sand Pounding?

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Trademarks

Preparing to send off to college my two oldest sons, led us to Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar & Grill’s rooftop patio on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall last week, and we found an interesting menu item. Under the Sandwiches category: “Smashed Burger,” is treated generically as a type of sandwich burger, along with “Kobe Beef” and… Continue Reading

Still Smashing Trademark Rights?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks

Why does Smashburger continue down this road of smashing its trademark rights? Especially, despite our previous cautions: Another Marketing Pitfall: How to Crush a Smashing Brand Name & Trademark Can Anyone Smash a Burger? Crushing a Perfectly Good Brand Name? In the meantime, we’ll keep watching out for marketing pitfalls and unnecessary marketing copy that… Continue Reading

Will Starbucks Be a Closer at the USPTO?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ll soon see whether coffee truly goes hand in hand with closers, at least in one famous brand owner’s quest for registration of a non-verbal, non-traditional color trademark at the USPTO. I’ve been noticing Starbucks focus on green straws lately, with the door signage shown below, offering a pretty creative use of “look-for advertising” without… Continue Reading

At The Corner of Trademarks and Confusion

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Trademarks

Even in the age of the Internet, the geographic use of a trademark is an important consideration in determining whether your mark is likely to confuse consumers as to the source of your goods or services. Geographic considerations are particularly important for bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries – especially as they enter new markets…. Continue Reading

Absolut Apologies, Comparisons, Truncations

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, False Advertising, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, Truncation

It has been a while since a billboard campaign has caught my interest and attention, but the currently running Absolut Goes Dark ads are an exception worth noting: Isn’t it interesting — at least in this context — how the simple references to Jack, Johnnie, and Jim, draw an obvious comparison to the distilled spirits… Continue Reading

Pepsi’s Next Generation: The Last Generation

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Goodwill, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks, TTAB

Back in the 1960s, Pepsi burst onto the scene by announcing to the youth of decade that they were the Pepsi Generation (they didn’t have a choice). Then, in the 1980s, Pepsi became “The Choice of a New Generation.” And finally, in the late 1990s, Pepsi hitched their trailer to the surely-to-never-go-out-of-style Spice Girls to… Continue Reading

Food Packaging Trademarks: It’s in the Bag?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Trademarks, USPTO

Welcome to another edition of non-traditional trademarks in connection with package designs: The Billy Goat Chip Company contends it owns exclusive rights in a protectable and distinctive trademark for the appearance of the above chip bag, minus any words or images — just the shape and configuration of the bag. (Reminds me of my grade… Continue Reading

Subway Drops Footlong TM from Advertising

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks

The last time I was at the airport I snapped this photo showing how Subway finally appears to have dropped its use of the TM symbol in association with the word FOOTLONG: As you will recall, Subway had attempted to federally-register the word FOOTLONG as a trademark for hotdog sandwiches, but Sheetz’ trademark challenge on… Continue Reading

An appetite for the unexpected: Bay Area Restaurant Names

Posted in Branding, Food, Guest Bloggers, Idea Protection, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

- Laurel Sutton, Senior Strategist at Catchword Brand Name Development When the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants 2015” guide arrived today, I started paging through eagerly. But not to see if my favorite spot made the list, or even to see if I’d eaten at any of the top 100, as most… Continue Reading

Coke Walks Tightrope in ZERO Branding

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

As you may recall, last September we wrote about Coca-Cola’s Significant Interest in Zero Marks, discussing Coca-Cola’s defense of a trademark infringement suit brought by an individual named Mirza Baig, who claimed rights in “Naturally Zero” for Canadian natural spring water, and Coca-Cola’s contrasting attempts to own and federally-register various marks containing the term ZERO… Continue Reading

Just because you can name your meal replacement product “Soylent”, doesn’t mean you should

Posted in Branding, Food, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts

- Jason Voiovich, Vice President, Marketing, Logic PD   It’s a classic of 1970s dystopian cinema. In “Soylent Green”, Charlton Heston (yep, the very same) struggles through a horrible vision of an overpopulated future where human beings are processed into “Soylent Green” to feed the populace. (The meme-line from this entire movie comes at 1:06… Continue Reading

March Madness For INNOVATION

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Food, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Following a nice evening out chatting with Kevin O’Keefe, it’s time for my favorite weekend of all – the NCAA tournament. Now this post isn’t necessarily about basketball, but rather rivalries. In particular, rivalries between the state of Michigan and the state of North Carolina. Michigan v Duke, Michigan State v. North Carolina…there’s plenty of… 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

Protecting Your Bacon: Patent versus Trade Secret

Posted in Almost Advice, Food, Idea Protection, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents

While, generally speaking, copyright law protects art, and trademark law protects branding, patent and trade secret laws protect information.  In deciding how to best protect proprietary information, innovators and businesses often come to a difficult patent/trade secret crossroads: do we keep this as a trade secret, or apply for a patent application?  However a company… 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

Red Bull Strikes Again, but Is Old Ox Brewery a Matador in Disguise?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It’s no secret that Red Bull has a strong trademark enforcement strategy. Too strong, according to some. In its defense, IP counsel for Red Bull has stated that With a brand as famous as Red Bull you can certainly imagine the type of coat-tailing that goes on by third parties and we invest a lot… Continue Reading

There’s Something About Nutella

Posted in Food, Infringement, Trademarks

First off, hello DuetsBlog! I’m delighted to join Steve and the rest of the team here, and I hope I can add to the excellent content that authors past and present have brought to the site. I’ll start my post with a statement that’s obvious to all trademark lawyers: brands can be valuable assets. One… Continue Reading

Would You Feel Friendly Toward Freddy?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, USPTO

As the brand manager or trademark counsel for Friendly’s, would you be friendly toward Freddy’s? I remember the Friendly’s restaurant chain when we lived in Columbia, Maryland, back in the days when I clerked for a Senior Judge on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., so at my first sighting… Continue Reading

Owning the Visual Identity of a Generic Word

Posted in Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Unless you have created a highly stylized, distinctive, graphic representation of a generic designation, perhaps something like the Miller Lite script, don’t bother trying to own or enforce it:   Most likely, you’ll end up regretting the decision to enforce, when the court of public opinion weighs in, after the social media shame-wagon flogs it… Continue Reading