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Category Archives: Trademark Bullying

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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

Trademark Litigation Keeps Getting Cheaper (If You Win)

Posted in First Amendment, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Slowly but surely, the extension of the Supreme Court’s 2014 Octane Fitness v. LLC v. Icon Health and Fitness, Inc. decision to trademark claims is gaining traction among federal appellate courts. The Octane Fitness decision addressed the standard for determining whether a case is “exceptional” under the Patent Act and therefore eligible for an award… Continue Reading

Trademark Lessons for New Businesses from a Lawsuit Against a Colorado Juice Bar

Posted in Articles, Dilution, Fair Use, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It is a big, exciting, and dangerous risk to start a new business. There were approximately 400,000 in 2014 (continuing a recent downward trend, according to Gallup). Most entrepreneurs know that the odds are stacked against them, as about 50% of new companies fail during their first five years (dig deeper into the numbers here.)…. Continue Reading

ELLE Fails to Un-ring Bell, DJ Action Sticks

Posted in Agreements, Articles, Branding, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Dilution, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB

Question for the day, how common is the given name Elle? I’m really not sure, I don’t believe I’ve ever personally known anyone with that name, and Mongabay doesn’t even include Elle in its listing of girl’s first names, but it does rank Ella (210), Elena (412), Ellie (1198), Elly (2802), and Ellamae (3514) among… Continue Reading

LARPing with Patent Trolls

Posted in Counterfeits, Dilution, Fair Use, False Advertising, First Amendment, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology, Trademark Bullying

Live Action Role Playing (LARP or LARPing) usually involves Renaissance Festival worthy costumes, foam medieval weapons, and an intense dedication to not breaking character.  I can’t say I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in a LARP event, but I also can’t say I’d turn down the opportunity. A different kind of battle—the intellectual property… Continue Reading

Thinking Outside Section 2(d) Refusals

Posted in Articles, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Section 2(d) of the Trademark Act is the statutory basis for refusing registration based on likelihood of confusion with another mark. It is invoked on an ex parte basis by USPTO Examining Attorneys, and it is also raised in the context of inter partes cases between adversaries. When an applicant seeking to register its mark… Continue Reading

A Fine Mess: YouTube’s Reaction to REACT

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

In the world of YouTube, subscriber count is king. With over 14 million subscribers, the Fine Brothers seemed at the forefront of new media. But earlier this month, the Internet’s collective scorn for a trademark portfolio sent the Fine Brothers’ subscription count tumbling. If you haven’t been following Benny and Rafi Fine of the Fine Brothers (during your non-work… Continue Reading

Does Louis Vuitton’s Loss to a Parody Defense Justify an Award of Attorney Fees?

Posted in Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Earlier this month the Southern District of New York granted the defendant’s Motion for Summary in Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. My Other Bag , Inc. The fashion giant had brought suit against a California company over its sales of a canvas tote bag that included an image that “evoked” Louis Vuitton’s classic handbag design…. Continue Reading

Trademark Bully or Not?

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

Chrysler and Moab Industries LLC (“Moab”) have been battling over the Moab mark for years. Moab holds the federally registered trademark Moab Industries®. Its business involves customization or uplifting vehicles—primarily JEEP® Wrangler® vehicles manufactured by Chrysler. In 2012, Chrysler sought to register a “Moab” trademark, but the application was denied based on a likelihood of… Continue Reading

Another Cliche Color Trademark Calamity?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fashion, Goodwill, Infringement, International, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Technology, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, USPTO

Techdirt is crying foul (again) and this time, wrapping the “trademark bully” mantle around the magenta-colored neck of the T-Mobile brand for enforcing its color trademark against OXY. While I certainly don’t have the details of the dispute (and it appears Techdirt doesn’t either), and OXY hasn’t produced the actual demand correspondence, given the distinctiveness… Continue Reading

What’s in Your Tagline, a Strong Trademark?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Last year, in my post entitled What’s in Your Wallet, a Cafe?, I had this to say about the iconic Capital One tagline: “Since 2000, Capital One Financial — the nation’s largest direct bank — has been promoting its credit card services by asking What’s in Your Wallet? Three years later it began promoting banking and other financial… 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

Are Trademark Bullies Bringing Plausible Claims?

Posted in Civil Procedure, Copyrights, Fair Use, Guest Bloggers, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

– Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC Intellectual property enforcement continues to make news, and new solutions to curb abusive enforcement – i.e. trademark bullying, patent trolling, and copyright trolling – are being proposed regularly. Central to these solutions is the idea of a “fast-lane” that kicks bad claims to the curb before the bullied… Continue Reading

Facebook vs. DESIGNBOOK: Is Anybody Watching?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Infringement, Social Networking, Technology, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

One might assume that Facebook, the ubiquitous social media platform that aggregates and analyzes nearly 1 billion users‘ data, would know every nook and cranny of the USPTO trademark database.  Apparently, that’s not quite the case. Various news outlets have reported recently that a Vermont startup named Designbook has received the demand letter nasty-gram from Facebook (no reference to Facebook… Continue Reading

Meet Batman’s New (Trademark) Nemesis: Rihanna

Posted in Dilution, Famous Marks, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB

After making (and remaking (and re-remaking)) movies, sequels, and prequels for nearly every comic book character in its library, it appears that DC Comics has finally found a new foe for its Batman franchise: music and fashion superstar Rihanna. The parties are squaring off at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board over Rihanna’s application to… 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

Let’s Ignite Inspiration Together: FUSE 2015

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Last year at FUSE 2014, I spoke about “The Intersection of Brands, Design, and the Law,” this year — and a short ten days from now — I’ll be sharing some valuable thoughts about how to gracefully navigate the many legal pitfalls of naming and re-branding projects. FUSE — one of the premier brand and… 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

March Madness For INNOVATION

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Food, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Following a nice evening out chatting with Kevin O’Keefe, it’s time for my favorite weekend of all – the NCAA tournament. Now this post isn’t necessarily about basketball, but rather rivalries. In particular, rivalries between the state of Michigan and the state of North Carolina. Michigan v Duke, Michigan State v. North Carolina…there’s plenty of… Continue Reading

Single-Letter Trademark Battles: Who Gets the W for “W”?

Posted in Advertising, AlphaWatch, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Infringement, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

How much trouble can a double-U make?  If you’ve been following this blog over the years, you know the answer: quite a lot. This blog has written extensively on the trials and tribulations that may accompany single-letter trademark applications, and the letter “W” in particular.  You may then conclude, quite correctly, that a whole lot… Continue Reading

Red Bull Strikes Again, but Is Old Ox Brewery a Matador in Disguise?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It’s no secret that Red Bull has a strong trademark enforcement strategy. Too strong, according to some. In its defense, IP counsel for Red Bull has stated that With a brand as famous as Red Bull you can certainly imagine the type of coat-tailing that goes on by third parties and we invest a lot… Continue Reading

Would You Feel Friendly Toward Freddy?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, USPTO

As the brand manager or trademark counsel for Friendly’s, would you be friendly toward Freddy’s? I remember the Friendly’s restaurant chain when we lived in Columbia, Maryland, back in the days when I clerked for a Senior Judge on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., so at my first sighting… Continue Reading