DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Tag Archives: Spectrum of Distinctiveness

Crisps = Chips = Crackers?

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

Seeing these on the store shelf this weekend reminded me that we are still anxiously awaiting the USPTO’s decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) as to whether the words “pretzel crisps” will be found generic for “pretzel crackers” –basically, a public domain category or class of goods term, in the same way that “footlong”… Continue Reading

The 140-Character Trademark Lesson

Posted in Branding, Genericide, Guest Bloggers, Loss of Rights, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Social Media, Social Networking, Trademarks

- Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC When I think of Twitter, I think of — it’s really hard to define because we’re still coming up with the vocabulary — but I think it’s defined a new behavior that’s very different than what we’ve seen before. — Jack Dorsey, Twitter Co-Founder in 2009 My, how… Continue Reading

Millions of False TM Notices to Remove?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, False Advertising, Food, Genericide, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

                A hot dog is a type of sandwich, and “footlong” denotes a type, category, or class of sandwiches (those measuring about a foot in length), making ”footlong” a generic term and part of the public domain – incapable of serving as a trademark for any kind of sandwich. This is true despite Subway’s claimed… Continue Reading

A New Test for Trademark Suggestiveness

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts

Let’s call it the Family Feud test of trademark suggestiveness . . . . We’ve written a lot here about the all-important Spectrum of Distinctiveness, a key tool for those who name products and services, and for those who hope their selected names can be ownable as trademarks, upon their first use in commerce. Last week,… Continue Reading

Trademark Bully Baloney?

Posted in Branding, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

In the wake of all the discussion and debate over “trademark bullying,” NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses), the self-proclaimed Voice of Small Business, recently offered its members and followers “5 Steps to Avoid Corporate Trademark Bullying“: Do Your Homework; Choose a Descriptive Business Name; Use Common Sense; Consider Buying Intellectual Property Insurance; and When in Doubt,… Continue Reading

The Galleria of Retail Jewelry Store Taglines

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Goodwill, Marketing, Television, Trademarks

 On this Valentine’s Day, after enduring weeks of the same endless running of national retail jewelry chain advertising, leading up to this annually celebrated day of love and affection, I thought it might be fitting to try a few retail jewelry store taglines on for size and examine – at least from a trademark perspective – their protect-ability and likely placement on the… Continue Reading

Seth Godin on Subtlety: The Trademark Perspective

Posted in Branding, Goodwill, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks

Seth Godin’s recent post entitled Subtlety, deconstructed, struck a chord with me, and should strike a chord with all trademark types and the brand owners they represent. Here is my favorite excerpt: Subtle design and messaging challenge the user to make her own connections instead of spelling out every detail. Connections we make are more powerful than… Continue Reading

Going Brand-Less: To Be or Not to Be a Brand?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Domain Names, Goodwill, Marketing, Trademarks

Apparently, if you own one of the diminishing number of retail shops that specializes in tobacco products, it doesn’t really matter if you have a brand or a distinctive name, or not. Tell them what you sell, tell them you’re open for business, and they will come, I guess. This image got me thinking about how often this marketing strategy – if… Continue Reading

The Phantom of the 4th

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Domain Names, Marketing, Trademarks

We’re not talking about Phantom of the Opera, and we’re not talking about the kind of phantom trademark issue discussed by Sharon in her compelling What is Maker’s Mark’s Mark? post from April of this year. No, we’re talking today, on this day for celebration, and on this wonderful 4th of July, about a Phantom trademark and brand that apparently has been… Continue Reading

It’s Official, Duets Marks Federally Registered

Posted in Branding, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

Lest you missed the prior (absence of) fanfare from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), we thought you should know (now you have not only constructive notice, but actual notice and knowledge of these valuable and important rights) that we are the proud parents (for those of you who personalize your company’s or client’s trademarks as… Continue Reading

Which “Would You Rather” Would You Rather Play?

Posted in Branding, Dilution, Law Suits, Trademarks

–Dan Kelly, Attorney A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court that had held that the federally registered trademark “WOULD YOU RATHER . . . ?” was merely descriptive as applied to books and games.  (PDF of appellate opinion here.)  Briefly, the facts are that Falls Media owns the… Continue Reading

Pizza Branding Goes Back to the Basics

Posted in Branding, Food, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Trademarks

Guest Blogger Anthony Shore of Operative Words, recently wrote about the naming pendulum swinging away from arbitrary names and back toward brand names having an honest, straightforward, and even humble quality, in Truth is Stronger Than Fiction. Another way of saying it might be: naming is going back to the basics. I recently came across a good example… Continue Reading

Grilling Some Barbecue Brands

Posted in Branding, Loss of Rights, Trademarks

–Dan Kelly, Attorney As evidenced on these very pages over the past year or so, there does seem to be a general divide between legal types and marketing types about the desirability of descriptive trademarks and brands.  This is understandable.  There is a direct tension here.  More descriptive marks and brands carry more information to… Continue Reading

Texas Toasted? How to Slice the Trademark Spectrum of Distinctiveness

Posted in Branding, Fair Use, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

  v.      Texas Toast is the generic name for a type of bread, you know, the big thick double-cut slices. Anyone can call their bread Texas Toast if that is what they are selling, and, by the way, it doesn’t have to be toasted for the name to fit. But, what if you’re selling a product made from bread, say, croutons?… Continue Reading

Another Marketing Pitfall: How to Crush a Smashing Brand Name & Trademark

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Food, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks

Last week we blogged about the dreaded D-Word and how some marketers unwittingly undermine trademark rights in a brand name by explaining that the name "describes" or is "descriptive" of the goods or services sold under the brand. We also have blogged about the danger of "taking a suggestive name, mark, or tag-line, and using it descriptively in… Continue Reading

The D-Word: What Ever You Do, Don’t “Describe” Your Brand!

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

Frequently brand owners find themselves in the position of wanting or needing to explain the thinking behind their name, mark, and/or brand. Sometimes the explanations appear publicly on product packaging, websites, catalogs, brochures, advertising, and frequently in press releases, or perhaps in statements to reporters, especially when trademark litigation concerning the brand is involved. Such explanations about the brand’s… Continue Reading

Exploring Alternative Spellings

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Marketing, Trademarks

–Dan Kelly, Attorney I recently came across a catalog for a company that sells “modular floorcovering” — probably better known as “carpet squares.”  (They actually sell more than squares, but I digress.)  The brand?  FLOR.  FLOR?  Cue kneejerk trademark attorney reaction:  “FLOR?  Are you kidding me?  I bet they had a heckuva time getting that… Continue Reading

Taking the Cake With Suggestive Trademarks?

Posted in Branding, Food, Marketing, Sight, Trademarks

John Reinan provided yesterday a marketer’s perspective that questioned the value of coined trademarks. In my experience, as a trademark type, one place on the spectrum of distinctiveness where both trademark and marketing types can have their cake and eat it too, is the delicious category of suggestive trademarks. From the legal side of the coin, suggestive… Continue Reading

A Legal Perspective on the Pros and Cons of Name Styles

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Branding, Marketing, Sight, Trademarks

Earlier this week, Guest Blogger Burt Alper from Catchword Branding, provided a marketer’s perspective on the pros and cons of naming styles, here. With that introduction, now seems like a good time to revisit the critically important line — in terms of legal protection — between descriptive and suggestive names, and also provide a handy graphic to illustrate the… Continue Reading