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Category Archives: Trademarks

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Santa Goes to the Trademark Office

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Contracts, Fashion, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

This is Fashion Santa. Or at least it was until recently. Fashion Santa is a role that originated with model, Paul Mason and Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall in 2014. He promoted the mall and a successful charitable giving campaign. Mason continued as Fashion Santa during the 2015 holiday season, and became somewhat of a social media sensation.  But… Continue Reading

Just Wait Until the USPTO Lays Its Hands on These Single and Dual Color TM Applications

Posted in Articles, Branding, FDA Approval, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

              Back in 2009, we wrote about what was then Kimberly Clark’s pair of single color purple trademark registrations in connection with “gloves for medical and surgical uses” and “disposable nitrile gloves for general use,” now owned by Avent and sold under the HALYARD brand: Those registrations are still… Continue Reading

It Is Not “Easy Like Sunday Morning” To Use Commodore As A Trademark

Posted in Fair Use, Law Suits, Trademarks

The band’s song “Easy” does not reflect Commodores’ founder Thomas McClary’s court battle to use the trademark “COMMODORES founder Thomas McClary” for his solo career.  As I dug further into the meaning of the song, it is actually about the relief of ending a really difficult relationship.  I guess it fits that the relationship, or… Continue Reading

Who’s the PATRÓN Anyway?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

PATRÓN (meaning “boss” or “landlord” in Spanish) is a pretty famous brand name of tequila (federally-registered since 1993), and don’t forget this gem from the archives: In my experience, PATRÓN is often requested by name when ordering margaritas, so when visiting this cozy spot, I instantly wondered about the need for permission or a license: Especially… Continue Reading

“Just Say No” to Rejection of Marijuana Trademarks

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Trademarks

Overshadowed by that yuuuge, shocking, {insert adjective for your feelings here} win was the legalization of recreational marijuana in three more states – California, Massachusetts and Nevada – in conflict with federal law.  This comes at a time when there have been a number of successive decisions (here, here) affirming refusals of trademark rights for… Continue Reading

South Texas College of Law: A Rebranding Update

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

As Steve wrote about a few weeks ago, the South Texas College of Law changed its name in June to the Houston College of Law, with a newly designed brand, shown below. This rebranding effort sought to market the school’s urban location in Houston.  Since June, the school spent tens of thousands of dollars on a rebranding and marketing campaign, including… Continue Reading

Such a Nasty Trademark

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Social Media, Television, Trademarks, USPTO

After the last presidential debate, the Republican nominee’s “such a nasty woman” utterance led to somewhat of a rallying cry.  Within minutes, #Nastywoman was trending across social media, and streaming of Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” spiked 250% on Spotify. While many debated the societal and political implications of the comment, a few enterprising individuals recognized a… Continue Reading

Creative Acronyms Refused Sometimes…Or CARS

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Branding, Marketing, Product Packaging, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Today’s offices treat acronyms like linguistic yoga (TOTALLY). ICYMI, they’re popular also in texts, tweets, and other “thumb-talking” activities.  LOL.  SMH. Legislators are having fun with them lately too, for example the Personal Rights in Names Can Endure Act (PRINCE Act),  the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism… Continue Reading

Sonic v. Supersonic Coffee v. AKA Coffee: Bullied to a better brand?

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

A specialty coffee roastery in San Francisco, Supersonic Coffee, has decided to rebrand to the name AKA Coffee, as reported yesterday.  The impetus for the rebrand was an opposition at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) by the national fast-food chain Sonic, against Supersonic Coffee’s trademark application for the word mark SUPERSONIC.  This trademark application (Serial No. 86382164)… Continue Reading

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