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Category Archives: Product Configurations

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A Faster, Sleeker Milk Jug

Posted in Food, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Taste

Another for the file of newly-registered product configuration marks: acquired distinctiveness, sold by the gallon. According to 2014 numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans drink 37 percent less milk than they did in 1970. Whole milk consumption has plummeted by 78 percent during the same period. The dairy industry has spent countless millions on advertising, and… Continue Reading

Look-For Advertising Sans the Clunky Words

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve written before on the subject of non-traditional trademarks and how look-for advertising can be quite helpful in not only educating consumers that a color or other design feature should stand out in their mind as performing the helpful role of a trademark, but in convincing the USPTO too. Earlier this month the USPTO granted… Continue Reading

Shape Marks: Coca-Cola Fails to Find Secret Ingredient

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Guest Bloggers, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks

–Dave Holt, Solicitor & Alex Watt, Partner, Browne Jacobson LLP In the European Union, Coca-Cola has recently followed in the stumbling footsteps of fellow global super-brand Nestlé, falling at the final hurdle in its attempt to register the three-dimensional shape of its iconic ‘Coke bottle’ in classes 6, 21 and 32. You can read the… Continue Reading

Yes, No, and the Ever Confusing Maybe . . .

Posted in Articles, Branding, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, SoapBox, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

Yes and no are at opposite ends of the spectrum. North Pole, South Pole. Night and day. Win, loss. Black, white. Available, unavailable. Protectable, unprotectable. Infringing, non-infringing. They represent a binary proposition, like a traditional light switch with two settings: on and off. My daughter loves the yes end of the spectrum; no, not so… 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

Negative Look-For Advertising Statements

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Look-For Ads, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Sight, Technology, Trademarks

Loyal readers know how important look-for advertising can be in making the difference between establishing trademark ownership in the shape or configuration of a product, and being left with nothing but a goose egg (as opposed to a Big Green Egg). That’s not to say, the clunky words “look-for” are required, yet something equivalent and… Continue Reading

Self-Inflicted Cuts That Can Kill a Trademark?

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Guest Bloggers, Look-For Ads, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks

We have some razor sharp readers and guest bloggers. We’re deeply thankful and especially grateful when our readers and guest bloggers send us real life illustrations of marketing pitfalls we’ve identified, sliced and diced here on DuetsBlog. They provide more great teaching tools. Hat tip to our own James Mahoney of Razor’s Edge Communications for… Continue Reading

Printing Infringement: Are 3-D Printers the Next Napster?

Posted in Copyrights, Counterfeits, Fair Use, Infringement, Patents, Product Configurations, Technology, Trademarks

Happy 2016! I hope everyone had a fun and festive New Year celebration. As for me, I’ll be spending my three-day weekend tinkering with this: Thanks to my thoughtful husband and the rapidly increasing availability and affordability of these products, I am the proud new owner of a 3-D printer.  It’s basically been running nonstop… 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

Jelly Belly Seeks Registration of Candy Shape

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

Last week Jelly Belly Candy Company filed a non-traditional trademark application with the USPTO to federally register the shape of its Jelly Belly candies. The claimed mark is drawn like this: And, described like this: “The mark consists of a candy having a rounded squat kidney-like shape, with one longer side being a continuous arc… Continue Reading

Samsung Seeks an Edge in Smart Phone Wars through Federal Registration

Posted in Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

For years, Samsung and Apple have battled over intellectual property rights associated with each party’s smart phones. Apple sued Samsung in 2011 and the jury found that Samsung had infringed Apple’s trade dress, design patents, and utility patents. On May 15, 2015, the Federal Circuit upheld the findings regarding infringement of design and utility patents,… Continue Reading

Imitating MILANO Cookies? Pepperidge Farm Remembers.

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Taste, Trademarks, USPTO

When a company puts “DISTINCTIVE” on its own packaging, its usually a sign that it highly values its trade dress and product configuration rights. That’s certainly the case for Pepperidge Farm and its Milano cookies. The commercial bakery giant has taken aim at Trader Joe’s, the popular grocery chain, for selling house-branded “Crispy Cookies” that… Continue Reading

Forget the 6s, is the iPhone 3d coming soon?

Posted in Branding, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

When the iPhone 6s was announced, the 3D touch was a heavily touted feature.  The touch screen can now sense how hard you’re pushing. Functionally, it’s a great improvement that gives users new ways to interact with programs. But a new trademark application filed by Apple on August 18, 2015 suggests that this may not… Continue Reading

Who Decides What Your Brand’s Worth?

Posted in Articles, Branding, International, Marketing, Patents, Product Configurations, Trademarks

On this Cyber Monday, I’m left wondering, will we ever have a day when the metrics and automated tools available are so accurate and reliable that intangible assets like brands (and trademarks) regularly will be valued, bought, and sold online? At rock bottom, a brand’s value is at least what another — in an arm’s… Continue Reading

Ads Touting Function Shoot Down Trademark

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about brand owners who shoot themselves in the foot with their advertising. And, I’m sure it won’t be the last. As we’ve discussed before, touting the function of a product design feature can kill any hope of owning non-traditional trademark protection in that feature. The latest example from… Continue Reading

Game, Stripes, Match…No Love Between Skechers & Adidas

Posted in Advertising, Fashion, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks

Maybe I haven’t quite accepted the fact that the US Open and New York Fashion Week are over and September almost is too, but stories on tennis and fashion always get my attention, especially when they include a little intellectual property infringement flair. The Stan Smith shoe is a legendary shoe design from Adidas named… Continue Reading

Apple Takes Us Back to PENCIL and PAPER

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

If you are a member of the Cult of Apple, like tech, or even just watch the news, you’re probably aware that yesterday was Apple’s big fall event where they announce new product launches and updates.  The event showcased a new iPhone with enhanced photo features (as this Wired article aptly puts it “Because selfies.”),… Continue Reading

Lego Adds a “Brick” to its Enforcement Strategy

Posted in Fair Use, Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Trademark Bullying, TTAB

The Danish Lego Group is no stranger to trademark disputes. Understandably, Lego enforces its rights in the LEGO mark against third-parties who use LEGO without their permission. Lego also claims trade dress rights in product shape and configuration of its blocks and enforces those rights against other building block manufacturers. Some competitors claim that these… Continue Reading

The Recycling of Brand Vessels?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Infringement, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks

Brand signals have been described as meaning vessels before, and vessels of trust too. Does that make a branded product package, container, or configuration a vessel within vessel? The tin cans below that have been recycled and transformed (as seen in the image I captured at the Minnesota State Fair), were most likely once brand… Continue Reading

No MN State Fair Photos, Pretty Please?

Posted in Articles, Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Trademarks

Well, it is opening day at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair, it was a great day, perfect weather, thank you very much! Happy to see that Lulu’s Public House is going strong, she appears to have some new food items this year, and they look amazing — a Minnesota Wild Rice Benedict Muffin and a… Continue Reading

Sony’s “Lens-Style Camera” Trademark: Shuttered by the PTO?

Posted in Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Technology, Trademarks

Here’s another fascinating pending application for the file of non-traditional product configuration marks — this time, an application from Sony for the configuration of an all-in-one lens/camera: The drawing may look like an ordinary camera lens – cylindrical, familiar, and generally seen affixed to a fancy DSLR. But the application identifies “Digital cameras” in Class… Continue Reading

Going YARD with the VARO Brand for Batters?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Sight, Technology, Trademarks

Time spent with my boys in Omaha at the College World Series is hard to beat. Although, last year, Father’s Day weekend was hard to beat too. And, the archives indicate five years ago was pretty wonderful as well. Basically, it’s all good. On this particular road trip, we were fortunate to score tickets to… Continue Reading

More Imaginative THANN Other Soap Brands

Posted in Articles, Branding, International, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks

On a recent trip to the Washington, D.C. area, I had the opportunity to stay at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, and I’ll have to say, as a trademark type, it was difficult to avoid being drawn to their unique and engaging bath soap and packaging: In my experience, most bath soap… Continue Reading