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Category Archives: Trademarks

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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

Big Green Egg on Hunt for TM Registration

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

As it turns out, four days after Easter, the USPTO refused registration of the Big Green Egg’s claimed exclusive rights in the shape and color of its popular barbecue smoker and grill: As you will recall, we wrote about this product configuration trademark application, back in December of last year. Here are the challenges raised… Continue Reading

Coke Walks Tightrope in ZERO Branding

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

As you may recall, last September we wrote about Coca-Cola’s Significant Interest in Zero Marks, discussing Coca-Cola’s defense of a trademark infringement suit brought by an individual named Mirza Baig, who claimed rights in “Naturally Zero” for Canadian natural spring water, and Coca-Cola’s contrasting attempts to own and federally-register various marks containing the term ZERO… Continue Reading

First dinosaurs, then wooly mammoths. Are trademark attorneys next to go extinct?

Posted in Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Look-For Ads, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

A world without trademark attorneys… frightening, isn’t it? (maybe more for me than for someone who isn’t a trademark attorney). It seems unlikely, but we may be inching closer to this apocalyptic scenario. In Australia, a group of researchers, legal academics, and other organizations are collaborating on the creation of a computer program that they… Continue Reading

Britto v. Apple: Utilizing the IP Kitchen Sink

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Copyrights, Counterfeits, Dilution, Fashion, Infringement, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks

Can an artist’s particular style of art constitute both copyrightable expression and trade dress? Brazilian artist Romero Britto has filed suit against two artists known as “Craig & Karl” for copyright infringement — and since the artists’ work was featured by Apple, Britto has sued the company as well for trade dress infringement. Britto’s complaint, filed in the… Continue Reading

Show, Don’t Tell . . . The Preferred Approach

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Technology, Trademarks

FUSE 2015 is off to being yet another amazing, inspiring event for brand strategy and design professionals. The keynote speaker for day one was Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer of 3M, who delivered a very interesting presentation called: “Future Forward: Beyond Design Tourism.” Little did Mr. Quint know that he set the table nicely for… 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

Bringing Down the Bauhaus for Trademarks?

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

We’ve been spilling a lot of digital ink lately on the topic of non-traditional trademark protection and how the functionality doctrine serves as an absolute bar for such protection. As you know, for some time, we’ve been stressing the importance of close collaboration between trademark and marketing types when it comes to forming public communications… 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

The Pursuit of Trademark Perfection: Can “40-0″ Function as a Mark?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Domain Names, Fashion, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

As Kentucky prepares to square off with Wisconsin in the NCAA Final Four and move one step closer to an undefeated, 40-win season, the University of Kentucky has been dueling with one of its own – a fan and attorney claiming he has already secured trademark rights to “40-0.” But can such a term even… 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

The Big Dance Around Trademark Madness

Posted in Advertising, Famous Marks, Guest Bloggers, Infringement, Marketing, Sight, Social Media, Social Networking, Trademarks

- Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC Last week, the Chicago Sun Times profiled Loeb & Loeb attorney Douglas Masters, the NCAA’s outside counsel in charge of trademark enforcement during March Madness. Licensing the official sponsorships is big business, and enforcement demands require Masters to send out hundreds of cease-and-desist letters to both accidental infringers… Continue Reading

Actually Resisting the Temptation to Tout Function and Hopefully Own a Trademark

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

Continuing our ramp up toward the launch of our Strategies for Owning Your Product Designs webinar next week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Morton-Norwich factors — the common analysis for determining whether a product design or feature can be owned as a trademark or whether it is functional and part of the public… 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

Yea or Neigh: Does “walmart.horse” Dilute the WALMART mark?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

For every serious-minded, informative website out there (I submit for your consideration this august blog) there are countless others that lean more towards the absurd. The website “walmart.horse” is squarely in the latter column. But can something so lighthearted also constitute trademark infringement? According to Ars Technica, a cartoonist named Jeph Jacques (author of the… Continue Reading

Fear the Brow, or Fear the Trademark Specimen?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Social Media, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Celebrity has its advantages in the trademark world. Slogans and taglines are big business for famous athletes, which in turn has led to some entertaining trademark applications: JOHNNY FOOTBALL and LINSANITY, to name a couple. As Martha noted in 2012, Anthony Davis sought to capitalize on his distinctive appearance and “The Brow” nickname with four… Continue Reading

What Do Gripe Sites Have to Do with SCOTUS’s B&B Hardware Decision?

Posted in Domain Names, Fair Use, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks, TTAB

In December, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in B&B Hardware v. Hargis Industries. The case addresses the level of deference to be given to decisions from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, if any. We’ve discussed the issue a number of times at DuetsBlog. I’d love to provide you with breaking news, but still… Continue Reading

Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 — and Functional Too?

Posted in Articles, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

Welcome to another edition of newly filed configuration trademark applications at the USPTO, here is the latest; it is quite a specimen: The question for the day though is whether the claimed mark actually functions as a trademark to indicate that the goods come from a single source. The claimed mark is described this way:… 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

Deck Stacked Against HOUSE OF CARDS

Posted in Television, Trademarks, USPTO

No spoilers here, I promise.  Like many Americans since it was released on Friday, I’ve been binge-watching Season 3 of House of Cards.  If you haven’t watched the program, available only on Netflix, it’s a riveting drama of political intrigue with stellar acting featuring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  The promise of another House of… Continue Reading

Thoughts on the New Mitchell|Hamline Law School

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, Guest Bloggers, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

- Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC Naming is a tricky business with important marketing and trademark considerations.  Recently, two Minnesota law schools, William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline Law School, took up this daunting task when they decided to merge into Mitchell|Hamline. On February 13, 2015, William Mitchell Dean Eric Janus announced the… Continue Reading