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Category Archives: Trademarks

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A Handy List of Star Wars References that Might Get You Sued

Posted in Almost Advice, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Trademarks

With its purchase of Lucasfilms and the Star Wars franchise, Disney did not wait long to begin exploiting the works. Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released on Dec. 18, 2015 and grossed more than $2 billion at the box office. At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s a lot of money. More is… Continue Reading

Houston (College of Law) Has a Problem

Posted in Agreements, Articles, Branding, Civil Procedure, Goodwill, Infringement, International, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

A trademark problem, that is, as reported by the Texas Tribune on Friday of last week. Lest you be fooled by the above reference to Houston College of Law being established in 1923, the name has only been around since June of 2016. In fact, when South Texas College of Law rebranded to Houston College… Continue Reading

Four T’s at Four: What Breweries Need to Know About Their IP Before They Consider an Exit

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Idea Protection, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Taste, Trademarks

“Forties at 4” was a time-honored Friday tradition among my engineering classmates in college.  After our last class, several of them would purchase Miller (if we could find it in a 40 oz) or Old English or some other malt liquor that provided the most bang for the buck.  Cracking one open always signaled the… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Involving IP Protection for a Lamp

Posted in Articles, Civil Procedure, Copyrights, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks

Last week a federal lawsuit was filed in Minnesota by Blu Dot to protect alleged intellectual property rights in the floor lamp shown on the left below. The accused “strikingly and confusingly similar” floor lamp shown on the right below is sold by Canadian Rove Concepts: So, what type of intellectual property do you suppose… Continue Reading

Intellectual Property for President 2016

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

  The 2016 Presidential election season has produced moments of strife, humor, shock, and even a little magic.  Most importantly, however, this election season has also provided us with plenty of IP fodder. First, there was a fortuitous discussion of Trump’s brand strength. Next, we looked at a slew of fresh campaign logos beaming with hope and… Continue Reading

Nihilist Arby’s: We Have The Tweets

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Marketing, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

I recently came across this new piece of merchandise available for sale online: Look familiar? Those familiar with the restaurant chain Arby’s likely think so. The shirt is a product of the parody Twitter account @nihilist_arbys, created by a former writer for The Daily Show. With occasional references to current events, Nihilist Arby’s darkly comedic tweets… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Benches Dan Snyder’s Team

Posted in Articles, Branding, First Amendment, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Mr. Simon Tam’s arguments and review the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s majority decision striking as unconstitutional Lanham Act Section 2(a)’s bar against the federal registration of disparaging matter, so it will decide the following issue, once and for all: “Whether the disparagement provision… Continue Reading

For Wrigley Field Street Vendors, It’s Win or Go Home

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Counterfeits, Fair Use, Fashion, Marketing, Trademarks

The Chicago Cubs are rolling into the playoffs, putting the finishing touches on a historically dominant regular season with over 100 wins. Cubs fans (like me) even dare to dream that the century-plus long championship drought may finally come to an end this fall, if the team can carry its impressive form into the postseason…. 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

Michigan v. M22: The Road Sign Trademark Battle

Posted in Branding, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, TTAB

If you’re ever driving north through Michigan, particularly during the autumn leaf season, I highly recommend taking the popular “scenic route,” that is, the route bordering the shore of Lake Michigan along the Leelanau Peninsula, following State Highway M-22.  Last year, Highway M-22 was voted into first place among a USA Today top-ten ranking of the… Continue Reading

Trendy Shoemaker Cannot Slay the Fashion King

Posted in Branding, Fashion, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks

Plaintiff LVL XIII Brands Inc. (“LVL XIII”) must not have heard of the old saying:  “Never strike a king unless you are sure you shall kill him.”  The New York start-up sneaker company decided to take on fashion king Louis Vuitton over a metal plate attached to high-end men’s sneakers.  LVL XIII’s claims were dismissed… Continue Reading

Owning a Cup of Trademark Transparency

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Goodwill, Idea Protection, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks

Seeing this Caribou Coffee skyway billboard was a good reminder to me of how much we hear about the importance of transparency in our relationships, including those with brands we love: It appears that the prevalence of society’s use of the word “transparency” may be at an all time high, where the use of “transparent”… Continue Reading

An OXI Surprise

Posted in Trademarks, Truncation, USPTO

One of the blessings of homeownership is the surprise that accompanies a major appliance breakdown.  I had the pleasure of experiencing one of these events over Labor Day weekend when my dryer decided it was done working.  Labor Day is one of the weekends you want to have it happen because there are plenty of… Continue Reading

Does a Commodity Ever Need to Apologize?

Posted in AlphaWatch, Articles, Branding, Genericide, Goodwill, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

On this welcome Labor Day, a few different thoughts converged for me, so please allow me to answer my own question in the title of this post, starting by explaining the below photo: After repeated diversions from a particular moving stairway a/k/a escalator to the far less convenient elevators in an unnamed downtown Minneapolis office… Continue Reading

The Hugo Awards: Tarnished by Puppies?

Posted in Branding, Guest Bloggers, Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

-Laurel Sutton Senior Strategist & Linguist at Catchword Brand Name Development Have you read J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? What about Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game? Frank Herbert’s Dune? Maybe Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (coming soon to the cable network Starz)? If you’ve read any of those books, you’ve read… Continue Reading

Timber! Will the Little Trees Car Freshener Configuration Trademark be Chopped Down?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

We wrote about the above trademark warning ad a few years back, and the claimed trademark owner likely recognizing vulnerability as to validity: “The idea generally is, let’s show and create a record that we are educating the public about our trademark rights and hopefully deterring misuses that otherwise might find their way into the public… Continue Reading

The RedBox Mark Has Gone to Waste and 3 Quick Lessons to Learn

Posted in Dilution, Famous Marks, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Trademarks

The RedBox brand continues to dominate the movie rental market. For the uninitiated, RedBox is a brand of movie and video game rental vending machines placed in convenient locations like grocery stores, gas stations, and fast food lobbies, like the one below: However RedBox’s commercial success hasn’t stopped the brand from going to waste –… Continue Reading

Worthwhile Uncomfortable Conversations

Posted in Agreements, Articles, Branding, Contracts, Copyrights, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

Seth Godin wrote this past weekend about joint ownership of creations: “Before you create intellectual property (a book, a song, a patent, the words on a website, a design) with someone else, agree in writing about who owns what, who can exploit it, what happens to the earnings, who can control its destiny.” We couldn’t… Continue Reading

Can Starbucks Tolerate Cannabis Parody?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Fashion, FDA Approval, First Amendment, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

A couple of weeks back, I captured this image from a t-shirt for sale in Starbucks’ backyard — at a shop in the Pike Place Market area of Seattle: One of the things it brought to mind for me is the dozen year long trademark dilution case that Starbucks lost, over and over, a few… Continue Reading

Zero Tolerance #USOC Trademark Overreach

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, First Amendment, International, Law Suits, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

By way of follow-up to Tim’s and David’s recent discussions about Rio2016 and related U.S. Olympic Committee trademark enforcement issues, it appears that a local Minnesota carpet cleaning business called Zerorez, is poised to press the issue of the USOC’s overreaching trademark policies by asking the federal district court in Minnesota to confirm it may… Continue Reading