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Category Archives: Squirrelly Thoughts

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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

Titleist Trademark Tarnishment?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Fashion, First Amendment, Squirrelly Thoughts

During today’s first round of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, many a golf ball bearing the famous TITLEIST cursive script will be lofted into the heavens – meanwhile, back on the ground, the brand’s owner is attempting to stamp out a lewd parody of its trademark. An online golf apparel company, I Made Bogey,… Continue Reading

The Missing Apple Trademarks

Posted in Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Trademarks

Far be it from me to criticize a company hoarding over $250 billion in cash reserves – but, hey Apple, why aren’t you filing trademark applications? Perhaps no company’s IP portfolio is of greater interest to the general public than Apple, Inc.’s colossus. (If you disagree, find me another website dedicated solely to one company’s… Continue Reading

What Do You Think Of Having ® On Your Store Sign

Posted in Advertising, Branding, International, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

I traveled to Barcelona last week to attend the International Trademark Association (“INTA”) Annual meeting. I arrived at the Barcelona Airport the requisite three hours before your international flight.  During my long stay at the Barcelona airport I saw three store signs with ® on them.  They included the following signs:    Although many stores… Continue Reading

The 50% Solution

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Guest Bloggers, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging, Squirrelly Thoughts

–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications Years ago, I was washing my hands in the office men’s room. Next to me was a wheelchair-bound guy washing his at the appropriately lower sink. I was thinking that the lower sink was a good idea when I noticed that the paper towel dispensers were all at “regular” height…. Continue Reading

Mars – Helping You Work, Rest & Play (and improve blood circulation?)

Posted in Advertising, Infringement, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

While browsing my daily trademark news and digesting some recent chocolate-related trademark litigation, to be discussed below, I happened upon some interesting discussions and histories of slogans for candy, including in particular, the MARS® chocolate bar. Back in 1960, Mars Inc. debuted its slogan for the MARS® chocolate bar: “A Mars a Day, Helps You Work,… 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

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

Initial Interest Confusion: Initially Interesting, Ultimately Harmless?

Posted in Advertising, Civil Procedure, Infringement, Squirrelly Thoughts

In the market for sunglasses, I recently went to Amazon.com and searched for “Holbrook sunglasses.” HOLBROOK is, of course, a trademark of Oakley, Inc. – but I had no intention of purchasing Oakleys. Instead, I wanted a far cheaper pair of sunglasses based on that style, so I could more easily justify inevitably losing them. Was… Continue Reading

Fictional restaurant wins trademark battle: The Krusty Krab

Posted in Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television, Trademarks, USPTO

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? If you know the answer to that theme-song question, you’ve probably seen, or at least heard of, the popular cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. It is one of the highest-rated and most-watched animated series to air on television. Many of us, myself included, grew up watching it on Nickelodeon since the early 2000s (or… Continue Reading

The Key Qualities that Companies That Succeed Have in Common

Posted in Branding, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts

– Jason Sprenger – President, Game Changer Communications Last month, my firm (Game Changer Communications) celebrated its four-year anniversary.  As I often do at times like that, I reflected on a lot of things about my business – successes, challenges, key milestones and more.  This particular anniversary also got me thinking about the qualities I most… Continue Reading

Trademark satire is no joke to the City of Atlanta

Posted in Fair Use, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts

Check out this City of Atlanta Facebook page.  The funny thing is that it’s not run by the City of Atlanta.  Although the posts are titled “City of Atlanta” and use the City’s official seal, the page consists of satirical humor composed by Ben Palmer, an Atlanta resident.  Although the first post was only a couple weeks… 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

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

For Trademark Demand Letters, Every Letter Counts

Posted in Food, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Taste, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It has not been a great week for oatmeal. The Quaker Oats Company (a subsidiary of food and beverage giant PepsiCo), on the heels of a recall for its Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars, has also made a rather embarrassing gaffe on the trademark enforcement front. And unfortunately, demand letters are far more difficult to recall. Evidently, an in-house trademark attorney at… Continue Reading

Apple’s Quest for the “Ownable” Mark

Posted in Articles, Marketing, Social Networking, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Trademarks

No company’s branding strategy is studied more meticulously than Apple, Inc.’s — and of late, Apple has taken a turn for the descriptive with its various operating systems. Every company wants its brands to be distinctive — and the arbitrary APPLE mark is among the most well-known. But its new operating system naming strategy has relied… 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

The March Madness Road Trip Returns

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, SoapBox, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television

It’s that wonderful time of year again, March Madness! When families, friends, and coworkers all get together to casually gamble and all throw $10 into a pool. When 12’s beat 5’s and mess up your bracket. When you lose one game and are sent packing. The few weeks when “Cinderella” is uttered most throughout the… 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

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

Rethinking Our Professions, and Unlocking New Value for Businesses

Posted in Advertising, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts

– Jason Sprenger – President, Game Changer Communications “Ummm…you’re those people who get their clients in the newspaper?” “Oh yeah, you guys throw some great parties!” “You’re the pros who people call when they’re in trouble and they need to make it all go away.” “Huh?  You do advertising, right?” Believe it or not, these… Continue Reading

The Internet of Names: CES Round-Up

Posted in Branding, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts

– Laurel Sutton, Senior Strategist & Linguist at Catchword Brand Name Development CES 2016 (January 6-9, 2016) has come and gone, and, as always, offered up a rich selection of new product and company names for analysis (and occasional mockery). Questionable name choices for “innovative” products pop up every day, but only at CES are… Continue Reading