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Category Archives: USPTO

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Does getaroom Make U Want 2 BookaRoom?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

A tv commercial for yet another hotel booking website just caught my eye, called getaroom: This one was founded by a pair of lawyers, in fact, the same duo that founded Hotels.com. I was left wondering whether getaroom is federally-registered, and it is, for “providing travel lodging information services and travel lodging booking agency services… Continue Reading

Owning a (Wholesome) Four Letter Word

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fashion, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

I’m not talking about those kinds of four letter words (by the way, we’re still awaiting the Brunetti decision to learn their fate), so today I’m talking about this wholesome kind: Inquiring minds may wonder (and interested alumni) how the University of Iowa might go about owning federally-registered rights in the word IOWA to convert that ™ symbol… Continue Reading

Federal Trademark Registration, the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech: Part III

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Of course, loyal readers have been eagerly awaiting Part III of the series (see Part I and Part II) focusing on Tam’s intersection of federal trademark registration and the First Amendment. In terms of the certain and practical implications flowing from the decision, it opens the door to a host of new trademark applications containing religious and… Continue Reading

Are pretzel crisps crumbling into genericness?

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

Marketing types and legal types who review labels, be well advised to choose words used carefully. In other words, if you believe you own rights in Pretzel Crisps as a trademark, it’s not wise to use the number of so-called “Crisps” as the serving size, especially with no trademark notice symbol. Frito-Lay’s successful 2014 generic… Continue Reading

Federal Trademark Registration, the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech: Part II

Posted in Articles, Copyrights, Dilution, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Trademarks, USPTO

As the drum roll proceeds to the upcoming Midwest IP Institute in Minneapolis and sharing the podium with Joel MacMull of the Archer firm (and Simon Tam fame) on Thursday September 28, in a few days, I’ll be making a stop south of the border, at the University of Iowa College of Law, where it… Continue Reading

A Special Thank You to Suzan Shown Harjo

Posted in Articles, Branding, First Amendment, Law Suits, Marketing, SoapBox, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the filing of the petition to cancel the R-Word registrations held by Pro-Football, Inc., the NFL franchise playing near the Nation’s capital. Indian Country Today has published an interview with Suzan Shown Harjo, lead petitioner in Harjo et al v. Pro-Football, Inc., and organizer of Blackhorse et al v…. Continue Reading

Kerrygold Update: A Buttery Settlement

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging, Trademarks, USPTO

A few months ago I posted about a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Ornua, seller of Kerrygold® Pure Irish Butter, against Defendants Old World Creamery and Eurogold USA, who briefly sold Irish butter under the mark Irishgold. The court granted Ornua’s motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO), concluding that Ornua had a reasonable likelihood of success on its trademark infringement… Continue Reading

Joust Do It? A New Form of Nike Battle Cry?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

By now, you’re familiar with my enjoyment in capturing and sharing new billboard signage that hits the streets of the Twin Cities. Question, what tagline might have inspired this one? Was the Minnesota Renaissance Festival inspired by Nike’s famous “Just Do It” tagline? Almost four years ago now, we noted — in this gem from… Continue Reading

Registrations for Golden Knights Still Refused…Partially

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, USPTO

Another update on my series of posts following the newest NHL expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the difficult time they’re having prosecuting their trademark applications. The applicant Black Knight Sports and Entertainment LLC (I’ll call applicant “the team”) applied to register LAS VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS and VEGAS GOLDEN NIGHTS in connection with… Continue Reading

Federal Trademark Registration, the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech: Part I

Posted in Articles, Branding, First Amendment, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Looking forward to sharing the podium with Joel MacMull of the Archer firm (counsel for Simon Tam, where our friend Ron Coleman is a partner) to discuss “Trademark Registration and the First Amendment,” on September 28th at the Midwest IP Institute in Minneapolis. As a drum roll leading up to that discussion, and since there… Continue Reading

It’s as Suggestive as a Butter Knife for Steak

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve written quite a bit over the years about the Spectrum of Distinctiveness for trademarks, and the all-important difference between suggestive marks and merely descriptive ones, with only the former being allowed immediate rights based on first use. Creativity is what separates the power of suggestion from the weakness and limbo of descriptiveness. Remember the floating feather… Continue Reading

MLB to Oppose (maybe) Blizzard’s Overwatch League Logo

Posted in Branding, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Sight, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

If you’re a video game fan like me, you’re probably familiar with Blizzard Entertainment and their assortment of popular games, such as Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft. One of Blizzard’s newest games is Overwatch, a multi-player, first-person shooter game. One aspect of this game is the Overwatch League, a series of tournaments and live… Continue Reading

The Brand With 3 Stripes, Bands, or Stitches?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve written a lot over the years about Adidas’ three-stripe non-verbal, non-traditional trademark. Turns out, Adidas actually owns a federally-registered trademark for the verbal, spelled-out, look-for advertising equivalent too, called: The Brand With The 3 Stripes®. We haven’t until now probed the meaning of “stripe” though: “A long narrow band or strip, typically of the… Continue Reading

Trick or Trademark? Mars Says Hershey’s Can’t Own “SCARY” Candy.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Idea Protection, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Sandwiched between 90 degree days in a Minnesota summer, the idea of Halloween wasn’t on my radar – until I learned about the latest dispute between candy giants Mars and Hershey’s. Mars and its subsidiary own many well-known candy brands, including M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Skittles, Life Savers, and others. Not to be outdone, Hershey maintains… Continue Reading

Is Foster’s Australian for False Advertising?

Posted in Advertising, False Advertising, Food, Law Suits, Trademarks, USPTO

While trademark infringement is the headliner for claims brought under the Lanham Act, the law also precludes false advertising and unfair competition. Most states also have laws addressing deceptive trade practices addressing similar misconduct by advertisers. Recently one consumer sued MillerCools under these laws, claiming he had been deceived into purchasing Fosters beer, thinking the… Continue Reading

The Slants, The Redskins, and Free Speech for All Parties

Posted in First Amendment, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

This week’s Matal v. Tam (formerly Lee v. Tam) Supreme Court ruling serves as a reminder that free speech is a two-way street.  It also suggests the value of a sympathetic litigant, at least in terms of public response. Many rallied behind Simon Tam and his rock band, The Slants.  The band members, who are all… Continue Reading

The Covfefe Kerfuffle and the Rush to Register Trending Terms

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, USPTO

While many of us are working our way through the flood of thought-provoking analysis of Matal v. Tam, I’m taking a break with some lighter fare, namely, covfefe. In case you missed it, the viral non-word “covfefe” was born out of a supposedly meaninglessly typo (perhaps a misspelling of “coverage”) in one of President Trump’s early morning tweets (alternatively,… Continue Reading

On Flag Day, What Flag Can You Protect?

Posted in First Amendment, USPTO

Today is Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as our national flag 240 years ago.  Although maybe more obscure than Fourth of July or Memorial Day since it is not a federal holiday, this has always been one of my favorite American holidays.  There’s just something nostalgic, reverent, and almost… Continue Reading

Acceptable Identification of Goods/Services

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Beef jerky is one of my favorite snacks, so while strolling through the Minneapolis skyway, I captured the above floor-to-ceiling advertisement to tell another trademark story. It’s been a while since we’ve written about the importance of brand owners not only thinking hard about their brand names, but also devoting thought and care to the… Continue Reading

“Google” Still Not (Yet) Generic

Posted in Domain Names, Famous Marks, Genericide, Law Suits, Trademarks, USPTO

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a significant opinion on the topic of genericness, Elliott v. Google, Inc., No. 15-15809. The opinion affirmed a federal district court’s grant of summary judgment that “GOOGLE” trademark registrations (Reg. Nos. 2884502, 2806075) are not subject to cancellation for genericness. Genericness a.k.a. “genericide” occurs when… Continue Reading

USPTO Proposes Cheaper, Faster Cancellation Option

Posted in TTAB, USPTO

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office register contains a lot of dead weight. In order to obtain a trademark registration and maintain the registration, the owner must use the mark in U.S. interstate commerce (as always, with a few limited exceptions). What constitutes dead weight? Usually marks that are currently registered, but not actually used… Continue Reading