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Category Archives: Law Suits

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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

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

Don’t Forget About Domain Names

Posted in Domain Names, Law Suits

One aspect of intellectual property law that doesn’t get as much attention as it maybe should is domain names.  For those of you internet-savvy readers out there (who I assume is most of you), you already know that domain names provide the virtual address where customers and others can hopefully find your goods and services. … Continue Reading

Trademarks That Violate Public Policy

Posted in Articles, Branding, First Amendment, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

As our friend John Welch reported last week, the place to be on March 10, 2015, is Washington, D.C., at the 25th Annual “PTO Day,” sponsored by the Intellectual Property Owners Association: John will be part of the panel update on TTAB practice, and I’ll be providing the overview of Section 2(a) of the Lanham… 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

As the Trademark Fraud Pendulum Swings

Posted in Articles, Law Suits, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Once upon a time, and for decades thereafter, trademark fraud claims were highly disfavored. They were criticized as unproductive litigation diversions — “often pled,” but “rarely proven.” To succeed — during that lengthy period of time — the alleged fraud had to be “proven to the hilt,” with “clear and convincing evidence,” leaving nothing to… Continue Reading

Apple Turnover Trade Dress Totally Flipped

Posted in Articles, Food, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

As if we all haven’t already indulged a little too much over the holidays, we chose our first day back to write about non-traditional trademark protection for the configuration of single-serving apple pie pastries. It’s OK, don’t worry, if the Blossom pastry to the left is tempting, you always can get back on track tomorrow!… Continue Reading

An Energized Trademark Monster?

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Articles, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Three months ago we discussed a “trademark bullying” allegation against Monster Energy, detailed in a declaratory judgment complaint filed in Montana federal district court by energy-drink competitor Victory Energize. Last week, Law360 reported the case settled on confidential terms, and the claims were dismissed with prejudice, at Victory Energize’s request, so the “trademark bullying” charge… Continue Reading

Henley Is Not Taking It Easy

Posted in Advertising, Fashion, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks

According to music icon Don Henley, intellectual property rights are not a joking matter. Duluth Trading Company found this out when it adopted the advertising slogan: “Don a henley, take it easy” to promote and sell Henley shirts (examples pictured below). Despite my purported (at least in my mind) fashion expertise, I first learned what… Continue Reading

Channeling Justice Ginsburg of U.S. Supreme Court on the Right to Register a Trademark

Posted in Articles, Branding, Civil Procedure, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

We sounded the alarm exactly six months ago about a trademark case of great importance to brand owners: B&B Hardware v. Hargis Industries. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case, and here is a link to the transcript (hat tip to Draeke). As you will recall, our concern in… Continue Reading

No IP Holes in this Crystal Head

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve spilled a lot of digital ink here over the past several years discussing the protection of non-traditional trademarks. We’ve also written about the importance of layering various intellectual property rights (trademark, copyright, and patent) to accomplish the competitive goals of a business. And, we’ve enjoyed writing about non-traditional vodka branding here and here. Today,… Continue Reading

When is a Flavor/Taste Trademark Possible?

Posted in Articles, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Taste, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Are your intellectual taste buds craving more discussion of non-traditional trademarks? It’s not every day we have the opportunity to write about a restaurant’s claimed trademark protection for the flavor or taste of certain food dishes and a restaurant’s claimed trade dress in the chef’s unique plating or visual presentation or appearance of certain food… Continue Reading

Amy, Whatcha Wanna Do (About this TM)?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

As we start to think about welcoming in the weekend, why don’t we all hum this Pure Prairie League tune, while viewing this image and reading this very brief blog post: As this image (that I snapped this morning) shows, the skyway in downtown Minneapolis is sporting a relatively new snack shop called Amy’s. I’m… Continue Reading

Converse: Stomping Out Counterfeits through Int’l Trade Commission Proceedings

Posted in Articles, Counterfeits, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Law Suits, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Earlier this week, Converse launched an all-out offensive to combat what it considers counterfeit and knock-off versions of its Chuck Taylor All-Star line of sneakers. Reports peg the number as at least 22 separate lawsuits against more than 30 companies, both in district court and at the International Trade Commission (the “ITC”). The defendants read… Continue Reading

HOW To Support a Lawsuit in 140 Characters or Less

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

It’s not too often that we see a trademark dispute that affects the marketing and advertising community directly (rather than just their clients), but the facts on this one read like answers to the Five W’s: Who? Popular Greek yogurt manufacturer Chobani, its ad agency Droga5, and corporate leadership guru Dov Seidman. What? A trademark… Continue Reading

Coca-Cola’s Significant Interest in Zero Marks

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

Coca-Cola just announced it is introducing Coke Zero in India, which will make it the sub-brand’s 149th market in the world, a truly remarkable reach. As the popular Coke Zero brand is approaching its tenth anniversary in the U.S., it seems like a good time to explore Coca-Cola’s trademark position in COKE ZERO and COCA-COLA… Continue Reading

Googling Doesn’t Break Google Trademark

Posted in Articles, Famous Marks, Genericide, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Trademarks

Our friend Professor Eric Goldman, over at his Technology and Marketing Law Blog, reported earlier this week that the Google trademark has survived a genericness attack by a fellow named David Elliot. Here is a link to Mr. Elliot’s complaint filed in Arizona federal court back in May of 2012, and here was Martha’s coverage…. Continue Reading