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Category Archives: Law Suits

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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

First dinosaurs, then wooly mammoths. Are trademark attorneys next to go extinct?

Posted in Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Look-For Ads, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

A world without trademark attorneys… frightening, isn’t it? (maybe more for me than for someone who isn’t a trademark attorney). It seems unlikely, but we may be inching closer to this apocalyptic scenario. In Australia, a group of researchers, legal academics, and other organizations are collaborating on the creation of a computer program that they… Continue Reading

Copycat Characters and the Selective Enforcement of IP Rights

Posted in Copyrights, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Spring is here with summer just around the corner. While many are preparing for barbeques and boating, others are finalizing plans and perhaps costumes in preparation for Comic-Con (Comic Book Convention) season. As many know, DC Comics and Marvel Comics are the long-time competitors in comic book publishing. Both companies were started in the 1930s… Continue Reading

On Unintended Consequences: Will the B&B SCOTUS Ruling Encourage Trademark Bullies?

Posted in Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Civil Procedure, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Last week, while I was preparing for and had the unique opportunity of arguing a real, live TTAB final hearing on the merits, outside the TTAB’s typical oral hearing location (because it was selected by the TTAB to be part of the ABA’s IPLSpring continuing education conference in Bethesda, Maryland), the Supreme Court issued its… 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

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