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Category Archives: Food

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Are pretzel crisps crumbling into genericness?

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

Marketing types and legal types who review labels, be well advised to choose words used carefully. In other words, if you believe you own rights in Pretzel Crisps as a trademark, it’s not wise to use the number of so-called “Crisps” as the serving size, especially with no trademark notice symbol. Frito-Lay’s successful 2014 generic… Continue Reading

Going Bananas Over the Eclipse

Posted in Advertising, Famous Marks, Food, Guest Bloggers, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts

–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications As I perused The New York Times on Sunday Aug. 20th, Chiquita Banana burst forth amid all the brouhaha reporting with a full page of the best ad I’ve seen in a long time. I feel sorry for those who missed it, because most of us can use a good belly… Continue Reading

It’s as Suggestive as a Butter Knife for Steak

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve written quite a bit over the years about the Spectrum of Distinctiveness for trademarks, and the all-important difference between suggestive marks and merely descriptive ones, with only the former being allowed immediate rights based on first use. Creativity is what separates the power of suggestion from the weakness and limbo of descriptiveness. Remember the floating feather… Continue Reading

Trick or Trademark? Mars Says Hershey’s Can’t Own “SCARY” Candy.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Idea Protection, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Sandwiched between 90 degree days in a Minnesota summer, the idea of Halloween wasn’t on my radar – until I learned about the latest dispute between candy giants Mars and Hershey’s. Mars and its subsidiary own many well-known candy brands, including M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Skittles, Life Savers, and others. Not to be outdone, Hershey maintains… Continue Reading

Is Foster’s Australian for False Advertising?

Posted in Advertising, False Advertising, Food, Law Suits, Trademarks, USPTO

While trademark infringement is the headliner for claims brought under the Lanham Act, the law also precludes false advertising and unfair competition. Most states also have laws addressing deceptive trade practices addressing similar misconduct by advertisers. Recently one consumer sued MillerCools under these laws, claiming he had been deceived into purchasing Fosters beer, thinking the… Continue Reading

Acceptable Identification of Goods/Services

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Beef jerky is one of my favorite snacks, so while strolling through the Minneapolis skyway, I captured the above floor-to-ceiling advertisement to tell another trademark story. It’s been a while since we’ve written about the importance of brand owners not only thinking hard about their brand names, but also devoting thought and care to the… Continue Reading

All for Saving the Original Minnesota State Fair Curds, Say Aye, Better Yet . . . #s and @s

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Articles, Branding, Contracts, Food, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

When Aaron Keller of Capsule deeply cares about an issue (in a deeply fried kind of way), it’s hard not to stand up, pay attention, and follow instructions, especially when his picture of golden little nuggetized cheese curds are involved and the Minnesota State Fair is at stake. As you might have discerned over the… Continue Reading

Here’s to Calling the Kettle, Brand Too?

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

The teapot read my post from last week and is not only calling the kettle black, but brand too: So, we’ll have to see whether saying it’s so makes it so, after we stir the pot a bit, of course. Like the previous Virginia Brand ham example, the chip packaging above prominently incorporates the word… Continue Reading

When is a Duck a Goose, or a Ham a Brand?

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

Every once in a while, the word “brand” appearing on product packaging surprises me, because my earlier understanding of the word preceding it spells generic, not brand. Just like the above. Shopping in Whole Foods this past weekend, the above shown VIRGINIA BRAND designation called out like a neon sign from behind the glass of… Continue Reading

HAVANA CLUB: The Rum’s Back on Ice

Posted in Agreements, Branding, Counterfeits, Famous Marks, Food, Law Suits, TTAB, USPTO

Last year, I blogged about the decades-long dispute for the HAVANA CLUB trademark in the United States. Nearly ten months later, well, its spirit lives on. To briefly recap: in one corner, Empresa Cubana Exportadora, an arm of the Cuban government, owns a registration for the HAVANA CLUB trademark. In the other corner, Bacardi claims rights… Continue Reading

Likelihood of Confusion at Its Most Blatant

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Food, Squirrelly Thoughts

Imagine my surprise and amusement to find a recent shipment of wine included a very interesting red blend. The bottle featured a name that would make any trademark lawyer do a double-take: That’s LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION wine, 2015 vintage (a good year for consumer confusion). Of course, the wine itself invites confusion, as indicated on the… Continue Reading

Wawa Not Gaga Over Dawa?

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Contracts, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Genericide, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Technology, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Earlier this month, Wawa, an East Coast convenience store chain, demonstrated it is not gaga over a single location food mart (copy of complaint linked here), called Dawa: As Dawa has vowed to defend its name, will this case come down to a battle over the meanings of the marks? Do consumers really know and… Continue Reading

What’s a Peppadew?

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

We recently checked out a new restaurant in Minneapolis’ growing North Loop area, called Red Rabbit, what a great spot:   The menu cleverly refers to the salad options as “Rabbit Food” — and the Italian Chopped salad spoke to me, but one of the listed “ingredients” left me wondering “what’s a peppadew”? Not wanting… Continue Reading

It Is Not All In The Family

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB

Although a precedential decision allowing a “Family of Marks” to be considered in the context of an ex parte prosecution of an application that has been refused under Section 2(e)(1) to show acquired distinctiveness, this ruling could not help Little Caesars overcome the refusal of its application for the mark “DEEP!DEEP! DISH PIZZA.” Because “Deep… Continue Reading

When Less is More

Posted in Advertising, AlphaWatch, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks, Truncation

Love the simplicity and honesty of this sign, captured on vacation, in a cozy crepe spot (had to get out of my chair and walk across the dining room to read the smaller print, well worth the steps): As Seth recently noted, there can be room for improvement when it comes to making signs (we… Continue Reading

Who’s the PATRÓN Anyway?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

PATRÓN (meaning “boss” or “landlord” in Spanish) is a pretty famous brand name of tequila (federally-registered since 1993), and don’t forget this gem from the archives: In my experience, PATRÓN is often requested by name when ordering margaritas, so when visiting this cozy spot, I instantly wondered about the need for permission or a license: Especially… Continue Reading

How Would You Pronounce Infringement?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

Last week, we discussed Caribou Coffee’s billboard ad referencing transparency — this week another installment from Caribou’s current Minneapolis skyway billboard campaign: That one made me think of this one, a post from a few months back about Kind nutritional bars and their Ingredients You Can See And Pronounce tagline and trademark: Marketing types, if… Continue Reading

Owning a Cup of Trademark Transparency

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Goodwill, Idea Protection, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks

Seeing this Caribou Coffee skyway billboard was a good reminder to me of how much we hear about the importance of transparency in our relationships, including those with brands we love: It appears that the prevalence of society’s use of the word “transparency” may be at an all time high, where the use of “transparent”… Continue Reading

Can Starbucks Tolerate Cannabis Parody?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Fashion, FDA Approval, First Amendment, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

A couple of weeks back, I captured this image from a t-shirt for sale in Starbucks’ backyard — at a shop in the Pike Place Market area of Seattle: One of the things it brought to mind for me is the dozen year long trademark dilution case that Starbucks lost, over and over, a few… Continue Reading

The World’s Healthiest Trademark Puffery

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, False Advertising, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Above the Law recently published a Techdirt story reporting that the USPTO denied Whole Foods‘ attempt to federally-register the laudatory trademark: “World’s Healthiest Grocery Store“. The Techdirt story incorrectly seems to suggest that the global nature of the phrase is what caused the application to be refused, since Whole Foods has not yet achieved a… Continue Reading

A Few Bainbridge Island Brands

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

If you haven’t been, I highly recommend visiting beautiful Bainbridge Island, a short thirty minute ferry ride from Seattle, Washington: It’s not routine to find national retail store brands there, so lots of unique local brands to discover and enjoy, here’s my favorite coffee shop: And, another great one: Here’s my favorite chicken on the Island, named Crockpot,… Continue Reading

USPTO Keeps the Door Locked for Marijuana-related Services

Posted in Branding, First Amendment, Food, Trademarks

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 25 states, including four states that have also legalized recreational use (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington). On Nov. 8, California voters will have a chance to make their state the next to legalize recreational use. As a dollar amount, Forbes estimated that Colorado’s marijuana industry was worth $1 billion…. Continue Reading

A Duel Over DUO Leaves Only Uno

Posted in Almost Advice, Food, Product Packaging, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

The never-ending battle at the Trademark Office over trademarks for beer and wine suffered another casualty last week, this time over the mark DUO.  Applicant Uinta Brewing Company filed a use-based application to register DUO for beer.  Fun fact:  the Utah-based brewery owns a trademark registration for TINDER for “beer.” Uinta Brewing uses the DUO… Continue Reading