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Category Archives: USPTO

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What’s in a name? Registration obtained for “Johnny Hockey”

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

Applying for a federal trademark registration for a name or nickname can be tricky business.  For example, the registration of a mark is prohibited if it is “primarily merely a surname,” meaning that the primary significance of the mark to the public is a surname (such as “Johnson”), unless there is a showing of acquired distinctiveness. See TMEP §§ 1211, 1211.01-.02.  By… Continue Reading

The Vegas Golden Knights – Trademark Denied

Posted in Branding, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Another update for you on the new Las Vegas NHL team. In my previous posts on this interesting saga (here and here), I discussed the team’s unique marketing and trademark strategy leading up to the announcement last month of the team’s name–the Vegas Golden Knights–particularly the secrecy of the name among three options (Silver Knights, Desert Knights, or Golden… Continue Reading

A Trademark Use in Commerce Story: Bonobos Buzz and a Two for One Specimen?

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

There are at least two kinds of buzz converging at the moment (perhaps three), especially for fashion forward and fit oriented trademark types here in Minneapolis. On the one hand, with the holidays upon us it’s hard to avoid the barrage of billboard ads in the Minneapolis skyway promoting the first brick and mortar entry… Continue Reading

Chartreuse Color Trademark on the Loose

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve written a lot about single color trademarks here over the years. Weems, the owner of the Flexilla brand has unleashed its federally-registered chartreuse-colored non-traditional trademark for “compressed air hoses” against Plews for selling air hoses with a “bright florescent green color” — a color that Plews claims online “reduces chances of tripping while on… Continue Reading

Trademark Scam Results in More than $600,000 in Refunds in New Zealand

Posted in USPTO

The records of applications and registrations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are publicly available, allowing individuals and companies to evaluate the registered trademark rights of third-parties. Unfortunately, these same records are also accessible by individuals for more sinister purposes, including sending “invoices” to applicants that appear to be official requests for required payments…. 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

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

Had you heard of Dropbox in 2009?

Posted in Infringement, Law Suits, USPTO

The popular cloud storage system Dropbox recently won summary judgment against Thru, Inc.’s claim of trademark infringement. Thru operates a secure file sharing system called Thru Dropbox.  See the screenshot from their website below. Dropbox filed a trademark application to register the DROPBOX mark in 2009, but was hit with a flurry of oppositions by other companies… 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

A new NHL team: The Las Vegas Silver (or Desert) (or Golden) Knights

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, USPTO

Have you heard about the NHL’s newest, not-yet-fully-named hockey team, based in Las Vegas? Although the team’s inaugural season will not begin until October 2017, season tickets have already sold out. This exciting news was a big relief for the team, who faced some skepticism about market demand for a 31st NHL team, and because Las Vegas has not… 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

Federal Cannabis Laws Don’t Impede Patentability

Posted in Agreements, Patents, Technology, USPTO

While the Lanham Act bars the federal registration of trademarks related to illegal goods and services, there is no such prohibition against patenting illegal products or processes. However, the value of such patents is debatable. State Legalization Leads to Increased Patent Applications Marijuana is now legal, in some form, in 25 states. But under federal… Continue Reading

Attorneys Getting Crafty About Firm Names

Posted in Genericide, TTAB, USPTO

I consider myself to be, among other things, a craft beer attorney.  I enjoyed speaking last week at the Midwest Craft Brewers Conference as part of a great panel on brand positioning, trademarks, and the use of social media in the craft beer industry, and will be part of a continuing legal education seminar on… Continue Reading

The World’s Healthiest Trademark Puffery

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

Above the Law recently published a Techdirt story reporting that the USPTO denied Whole Foods‘ attempt to federally-register the laudatory trademark: “World’s Healthiest Grocery Store“. The Techdirt story incorrectly seems to suggest that the global nature of the phrase is what caused the application to be refused, since Whole Foods has not yet achieved a… Continue Reading

Trademark Goods/Services Limitations, Why Not Exclude Any Federal Unlawful Activities?

Posted in Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Those involved in the cannabis industry — where certain activities are legal in some States, but unlawful under federal law — continue to search for creative strategies and solutions in protecting their trademarks and service marks. Picking up where Tim left off last Friday, I’ve been giving some thought as to how the Herbal Access… Continue Reading

POKEMON GO Caught By…POKEMON?

Posted in Trademarks, USPTO

Last week was rough.  We went from celebrating America to watching her at her worst.  We saw officers shoot two black men in Baton Rouge, LA and Falcon Heights, MN, a black man shoot cops in Dallas, and resulting social unrest (including my hometown police being hit with concrete last weekend and protests blocking our… Continue Reading