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Category Archives: Idea Protection

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Joint IP Ownership Rights

Posted in Agreements, Almost Advice, Contracts, Copyrights, Genericide, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Trademarks

New ideas, creations, and business ventures are often the product of collaboration.  If lawyers had their way, a written agreement would precede every creative collaboration.  Of course, this is not the case.  Collaborators often do not seek advice of counsel, or see the need for an agreement, until after the new idea, creation, or venture… 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

Pass the…Creative Work

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Copyrights, Famous Marks, Genericide, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits

I laughed when I saw yesterday’s Adweek article about Heinz adopting Don Draper’s “Pass the Heinz” pitch from the hit show “Mad Men.”  Given the lackluster creativity observed from the Super Bowl ads, have we actually reached a point where a creative says “hey remember that Mad Men episode? let’s just do that!” and the… Continue Reading

Who Will Own New Designs in a Jetsons-like Era?

Posted in Agreements, Copyrights, Idea Protection, Patents, Squirrelly Thoughts, USPTO

While on my flight back from speaking on trademarks & the alcohol industry at this year’s CiderCon, I listened to a fascinating TedTalks podcast on advancements in artificial intelligence that you can find here.  Some of the examples of the progress made in robots included the concept of open-ended, non-linear “generative” thinking by advanced AI… 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

Four T’s at Four: What Breweries Need to Know About Their IP Before They Consider an Exit

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Idea Protection, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Taste, Trademarks

“Forties at 4” was a time-honored Friday tradition among my engineering classmates in college.  After our last class, several of them would purchase Miller (if we could find it in a 40 oz) or Old English or some other malt liquor that provided the most bang for the buck.  Cracking one open always signaled the… 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

Trans-Pacific Intellectual Property

Posted in Agreements, Copyrights, Fair Use, Idea Protection, Infringement, International, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Trademarks

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a favored talking point among our presidential hopefuls—is an international trade agreement between twelve nations. The agreement was signed earlier this year, but is not yet ratified in most member countries including the United States. Negotiations took place over seven years and resulted in thirty dense chapters of provisions—some of which are… Continue Reading

A $10 Billion Idea, without a Patent, is just an Idea

Posted in Copyrights, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Patents, Technology

Have you ever seen an ad for something and thought to yourself, “Hey, I had that idea years ago!” Some people take that thought a step further. One Florida man claims to have invented the iPhone in 1992, and is suing Apple to the tune of over $10 billion. Thomas Ross filed a patent application… Continue Reading

Lights, Camera…Now Take Action

Posted in Fair Use, Guest Bloggers, Idea Protection, Infringement, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Television

– Jason Sprenger – President, Game Changer Communications Imagine for a moment you’re back in the year 1963…the time of Mad Men, the beginning of Beatlemania, the year of the “I Have a Dream” speech.  Who’s the most trusted man in America?  You might be surprised that it wasn’t Martin Luther King Jr., or even the… Continue Reading

The USPTO Says “Yes” But the TTB Says “No” To LSD

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, First Amendment, Idea Protection, Marketing, Product Packaging, Trademarks, USPTO

Government approval of commercial speech has been a hot topic of discussion by trademark nerds here and elsewhere in light of recent decisions regarding the Redskins and The Slants marks.  As those decisions proceed up through the appeal channels to the Supreme Court, attention has been drawn to whether or not a trademark registration certificate… 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

Nobody Puts Trademark Claims in a Corner (Except when Copyright Law Preempts Them)

Posted in Copyrights, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks

Nostalgia is a big seller these days. Hollywood continues to produce remakes (and remakes of remakes), politicians lament the better days of yesterday, and companies capitalize on feelings of nostalgia in order to make money. It’s not new, but it does seem to be more popular than ever. TD Ameritrade jumped on the Nostalgia Express… 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

An E-Bay User Copied and Sold Thousands of Designs for Profit, but is it Legal?

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, Idea Protection, Infringement, Loss of Rights

Three-dimensional printing technology continues to be a new frontier of creativity, advancement, and of course, legal issues. The laws surrounding 3D printing have always been a topic of concern, but the discussion took center stage over the last few weeks in an unprecedented way. If you’re new to the idea of 3D printing, here’s a… Continue Reading

Are Registrations for Product Configuration Trademarks for Suckers?

Posted in Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Idea Protection, Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks, USPTO

As a kid, I loved candy. But as an adult, who happens to be an intellectual property attorney, I still love candy. So you can bet your sweet tooth that I was feeling a sugar rush when I came across a pending application to register the claimed mark shown below: The application was filed by… 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

Patent System is not the Fire that Hoverboards Need to Put Out

Posted in Articles, Branding, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Trademarks

One of the hottest toys during the 2015 holiday season was the hoverboard, and doesn’t that seem about right for this year.   I saw my first hoverboard earlier this summer — a guy was walking and holding hands with his girlfriend, as she glided alongside him on the hoverboard.  If I were to make a… Continue Reading