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Category Archives: USPTO

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Chartreuse Color Trademark Still on the Loose

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

Back in December we wrote about a trademark infringement case (Weems v. Plews) involving claimed exclusive rights in the color chartreuse as applied to various kinds of hoses. Since then, Plews has been busy trying to short circuit the case and have the unregistered (common law) trademark infringement claims dismissed, contending Weems did not adequately… Continue Reading

While the Slants are in the Spotlight, Chief Wahoo is on Deck

Posted in First Amendment, USPTO

Throughout the past decade, attorneys, judges, plaintiffs, and defendants have invested thousands of hours in the fight over offensive trademarks. Most of the public is aware of the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins, who continue to be embroiled in litigation that is currently pending with the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. But… Continue Reading

When is a Duck a Goose, or a Ham a Brand?

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

Every once in a while, the word “brand” appearing on product packaging surprises me, because my earlier understanding of the word preceding it spells generic, not brand. Just like the above. Shopping in Whole Foods this past weekend, the above shown VIRGINIA BRAND designation called out like a neon sign from behind the glass of… Continue Reading

HAVANA CLUB: The Rum’s Back on Ice

Posted in Agreements, Branding, Counterfeits, Famous Marks, Food, Law Suits, TTAB, USPTO

Last year, I blogged about the decades-long dispute for the HAVANA CLUB trademark in the United States. Nearly ten months later, well, its spirit lives on. To briefly recap: in one corner, Empresa Cubana Exportadora, an arm of the Cuban government, owns a registration for the HAVANA CLUB trademark. In the other corner, Bacardi claims rights… Continue Reading

Hasbro thinks the Smell of Play-Doh Is a Trademark, will the USPTO Agree?

Posted in Fair Use, Non-Traditional Trademarks, USPTO

As we have discussed previously, trademark protection isn’t an exclusive club for words and pictures. Shapes, sounds, and even the tactile feel of a product can all qualify for trademark protection. And as a recent application from Hasbro shows, even the smell of a trademark might qualify for trademark protection. The mark set forth in… Continue Reading

Congratulations to Howard University’s 2017 McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Team

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

It’s not every year that participants in the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition need to understand the various nuances of federal trademark law. Yet, with the Lee v. Tam case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act hanging in the balance, this was such a… Continue Reading

McCarthy Institute Trademark Seminar 2017

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

One of the current challenges in trademark law addressed in Seattle last week at the Amazon Corporate Conference Center, host of the 2017 McCarthy Institute and Microsoft Corporation Symposium, is an issue we have discussed quite a bit here, namely Trademark Disparagement and the First Amendment. The panel to discuss this weighty topic included the… Continue Reading

Who Will Own New Designs in a Jetsons-like Era?

Posted in Agreements, Copyrights, Idea Protection, Patents, Squirrelly Thoughts, USPTO

While on my flight back from speaking on trademarks & the alcohol industry at this year’s CiderCon, I listened to a fascinating TedTalks podcast on advancements in artificial intelligence that you can find here.  Some of the examples of the progress made in robots included the concept of open-ended, non-linear “generative” thinking by advanced AI… Continue Reading

Patriots Granted Registrations for “Perfect Season” That Never Was

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

Regardless of which team you were rooting for, this year’s Super Bowl (a/k/a the Big Game) was an exciting one to watch, with the Patriots making a surprising comeback in the second half, racking up 31 consecutive points to overcome the Falcons 28-3 lead. A number of records were made this year, including the first overtime… Continue Reading

NASCAR Brand Gasoline at a Pump Near You?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Contracts, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Smell, Taste, Trademarks, USPTO

With the Strafford Publications webinar later today discussing the Lanham Trademark Act’s “Use in Commerce” requirement, with some of my favorite panelists no less, the topic has been on my mind, even when pumping gas into my rental car in Houston, Texas, this past weekend: So, what do folks think, does this photograph of a… Continue Reading

Your Favorite App-Based Ride Service?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

Before you answer the question posed in the title of this post, your initial question might be: What is an App-Based Ride Service? The Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport is using a handy sign directing passengers on where to go to access their favorite one, does that help? I’m thinking the designated area in the… Continue Reading

Fictional restaurant wins trademark battle: The Krusty Krab

Posted in Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television, Trademarks, USPTO

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? If you know the answer to that theme-song question, you’ve probably seen, or at least heard of, the popular cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. It is one of the highest-rated and most-watched animated series to air on television. Many of us, myself included, grew up watching it on Nickelodeon since the early 2000s (or… Continue Reading

What’s a Peppadew?

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

We recently checked out a new restaurant in Minneapolis’ growing North Loop area, called Red Rabbit, what a great spot:   The menu cleverly refers to the salad options as “Rabbit Food” — and the Italian Chopped salad spoke to me, but one of the listed “ingredients” left me wondering “what’s a peppadew”? Not wanting… Continue Reading

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