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Category Archives: USPTO

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

You might be familiar with the popular mid-90s commercials suggested by the title of this post.  However, the intention of this post is about the use of trademarks on beer to refuse trademark protection for wineries and vice versa, which is an increasing problem for the growing craft alcohol industry. Recently an Austrailian company, Innvopak… Continue Reading

Airline Brand Strategery: It’s Transfarency

Posted in Articles, Branding, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Earlier this month Southwest Airlines launched a brand new ad campaign called “Transfarency,” which is said to highlight the airline’s “low-fare credo and its lack of bag fees, change fees or hidden fees for passengers.” Transparency seems to be the buzz word in branding and marketing circles lately, so what better way to communicate it… Continue Reading

Rough Landing for Airbus

Posted in Branding, Idea Protection, Marketing, Patents, Social Media, USPTO

As if economy airplane seating wasn’t bad enough, Airbus recently filed a patent application for vertically stacked passenger seating.  The proposed seating arrangement is intended to make more efficient use of cabin space.  What’s better than someone’s legs pushing into the back of your chair?   Someone’s legs dangling above your head. The patent application was… Continue Reading

Ads Touting Function Shoot Down Trademark

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

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about brand owners who shoot themselves in the foot with their advertising. And, I’m sure it won’t be the last. As we’ve discussed before, touting the function of a product design feature can kill any hope of owning non-traditional trademark protection in that feature. The latest example from… Continue Reading

Easy Registration Refusal, See Park ‘N Fly

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

Trademark types know all about Park ‘N Fly, whether they travel or not. That’s because it is more than a nearly fifty year old airport parking and travel service brand and federally-registered service mark, it is short-hand for a famous U.S. Supreme Court trademark case from 1985. In that decision, the Supreme Court recognized the… Continue Reading

RECOVERY from a Surprise Genericness Refusal?

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Genericide, Infringement, Trademarks, USPTO

Reliant Beverage Co., makers of “Recovery Water,” has an endorsement from Russell Wilson and heaps of buzz surrounding the purported benefits of its products and “nanobubbles,” but thanks to some errors from both Reliant and the PTO, a federal trademark may be out of reach. Reliant applied for the RECOVERY WATER mark back in March, and soon… Continue Reading

Apple Takes Us Back to PENCIL and PAPER

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

If you are a member of the Cult of Apple, like tech, or even just watch the news, you’re probably aware that yesterday was Apple’s big fall event where they announce new product launches and updates.  The event showcased a new iPhone with enhanced photo features (as this Wired article aptly puts it “Because selfies.”),… Continue Reading

Tastes Like Chicken, Not a Copyright

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Copyrights, False Advertising, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Taste, Trademarks, USPTO

A common refrain: “There must be a way to protect this idea, either by trademark or copyright.” Regrettably, in many instances, the answer is “none of the above.” Take, for example, the humble chicken sandwich. Late last week, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a granted motion to dismiss with a holding… Continue Reading

What Does the Trademark Registration Say?

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

Remember a while back when many were humming to the tune “What Does the Fox Say“? Today, I’m asking, what does the trademark registration say? Not, what does the trademark say — that is a different and more complicated question, depending on the specific mark, but at a minimum, answering that question involves the meaning… Continue Reading

“Symmetrically Arranged” Buttons: A Patent Win for Nintendo

Posted in Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Technology, USPTO

Nintendo has been making headlines recently.  The gaming industry is in mourning over the unfortunate passing of Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata last week.  Iwata was instrumental in the success of the Nintendo Wii, among other Nintendo creations, and was known for his accessibility to fans. Nintendo was in the news again this week for a… Continue Reading

Will Starbucks Be a Closer at the USPTO?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ll soon see whether coffee truly goes hand in hand with closers, at least in one famous brand owner’s quest for registration of a non-verbal, non-traditional color trademark at the USPTO. I’ve been noticing Starbucks focus on green straws lately, with the door signage shown below, offering a pretty creative use of “look-for advertising” without… Continue Reading

Washington’s NFL Team and U.S. Customs

Posted in Articles, Branding, Counterfeits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Last week the NFL franchise that plays football near — but not in — our Nation’s Capital, was dealt another significant legal and public relations blow that would have any rational brand owner working overtime on its re-branding efforts. Professor Christine Haight Farley, at American University’s Washington College of Law, summarizes the Amanda Blackhorse decision… Continue Reading

Counterclaims for Cancellation Are Like Yoga Pants for Your Infringement Defense

Posted in Advertising, Fair Use, Fashion, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Trademarks, USPTO

Here’s one piece of advice you’ll hear from just about any trademark attorney: apply to federally register your marks as soon as financially possible. It is a very important step to take in order to protect your brand. A federal registration provides nationwide rights over any third-party that begins use of a confusingly similar mark… Continue Reading


Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Social Media, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

In the fall of 2012, an upstart freshman quarterback at Texas A&M named Johnny Manziel earned the moniker “Johnny Football” during an incredible season, leading the Aggies to a number of huge wins. Yet after three years, a Heisman Trophy, and a shaky rookie season in the NFL, Manziel has yet to secure a trademark registration for… Continue Reading

Purple-Colored Fabric Tags Attached to Remote Control Found Inherently Distinctive

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fashion, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Technology, Touch, Trademarks, USPTO

News flash, last Friday the USPTO approved for publication a non-traditional trademark that I’ve seen in real life before. Let’s just say it is attached to one of our many remote control devices that I’ve had to dig out from under the sofa cushions more than a few times: The claimed mark consists of “the… Continue Reading

I’ll Take a Trademark, Up, With a Twist

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Product Packaging, Trademarks, USPTO

Indeed Brewing Company, a popular brewery here in Minneapolis and a favorite of mine, announced that they were revamping their acclaimed packaging.  A story in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal unveiled their new packaging: As a really nicely executed design, it de-clutters the look of the can while keeping the well-known artistic features and color… Continue Reading

Is Brewer’s BOSTON 2024 Ahead of Its Time?

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, International, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Boston Beer Corporation, makers of Samuel Adams beer, received approval for its intent-to-use trademark application for the word mark BOSTON 2024 for “beer,” which generated some news buzz in light of the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics.  While the move was praised as a smart business strategy to grab the name before other brewers,… Continue Reading

Losing Marbles With Packaging Trademarks

Posted in Articles, Branding, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

Welcome to yet another edition of non-traditional trademarks, but instead of discussing brown paper bags for chips as trademarks, today we’re focusing on a U.S. trademark registration that surprisingly issued just a few weeks ago — a net bag package design for holding toy marbles: As shown above, the claimed mark “consists of the three-dimensional… Continue Reading

A Naked Attempt at Trademark Association

Posted in Branding, Guest Bloggers, Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

– John Reinan, a Minneapolis journalist and recovering marketer When news broke a couple months ago that the “gentlemen’s club” Spearmint Rhino would be opening a downtown Minneapolis branch on Hennepin Avenue, I joked on Twitter that I should open a club down the street and call it Menthol Hippo. OK, so I’m not really… Continue Reading