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Category Archives: USPTO

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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

¿Por Que, JUANITO FÚTBOL?

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

Ford’s Patent Announcement Not so Groundbreaking

Posted in Patents, Technology, USPTO

Last week, a press release announced that Ford would “Open[] [its] Portfolio of Patented Technologies to Competitors to Accelerate Industry-Wide Electrified Vehicle Development.”  Media outlets were quick to report that Ford was joining Tesla in opening its patent portfolio, referencing Tesla’s widely publicized promise last year not to enforce its patents.  But Ford’s announcement is… Continue Reading

Food Packaging Trademarks: It’s in the Bag?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Trademarks, USPTO

Welcome to another edition of non-traditional trademarks in connection with package designs: The Billy Goat Chip Company contends it owns exclusive rights in a protectable and distinctive trademark for the appearance of the above chip bag, minus any words or images — just the shape and configuration of the bag. (Reminds me of my grade… Continue Reading

Trademarks Can Be a Bitch

Posted in First Amendment, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

And I mean that literally. We’ve laid down a lot of digital ink in the past about pejorative marks – lately in reference to the Redskins (at least here, here, and here) and  The Slants (here and here), both of which have been deemed disparaging enough to deny them a federal trademark registration.  We’ve even… Continue Reading

Is the Skype Falling?

Posted in International, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

  An interesting battle ground may be brewing in light of the United States Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the B&B Hardware case which Duetsblog authors have previously commented on extensively.  Now that the Court has essentially expanded the scope of collateral estoppel applicable to trademark registration decisions made by the United States Patent and… Continue Reading

Google Wants to Buy Your Patent—To Keep it Away from a [Different] Patent Troll

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Technology, USPTO

    Last week, Google announced its new “Patent Purchase Promotion.”  Under this program, for a two-week period, companies and individuals will have an opportunity to offer their patents to Google for purchase for a price determined by the patent owners themselves.  The program is set to run from May 8th through May 22nd of… Continue Reading

Trolling for an Inventive Method for Patent Enforcement

Posted in Genericide, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Patents, SoapBox, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, USPTO

In the wake of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert leaving their respective shows on Comedy Central for newer pastures, John Oliver has emerged as a new beacon of political humor and satire.  If you haven’t watched his show, and especially if you considered the former two as having an obvious political slant, you should check… Continue Reading

Big Green Egg on Hunt for TM Registration

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

As it turns out, four days after Easter, the USPTO refused registration of the Big Green Egg’s claimed exclusive rights in the shape and color of its popular barbecue smoker and grill: As you will recall, we wrote about this product configuration trademark application, back in December of last year. Here are the challenges raised… Continue Reading

Coke Walks Tightrope in ZERO Branding

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

As you may recall, last September we wrote about Coca-Cola’s Significant Interest in Zero Marks, discussing Coca-Cola’s defense of a trademark infringement suit brought by an individual named Mirza Baig, who claimed rights in “Naturally Zero” for Canadian natural spring water, and Coca-Cola’s contrasting attempts to own and federally-register various marks containing the term ZERO… Continue Reading

Bringing Down the Bauhaus for Trademarks?

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

We’ve been spilling a lot of digital ink lately on the topic of non-traditional trademark protection and how the functionality doctrine serves as an absolute bar for such protection. As you know, for some time, we’ve been stressing the importance of close collaboration between trademark and marketing types when it comes to forming public communications… Continue Reading

On Unintended Consequences: Will the B&B SCOTUS Ruling Encourage Trademark Bullies?

Posted in Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Civil Procedure, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Last week, while I was preparing for and had the unique opportunity of arguing a real, live TTAB final hearing on the merits, outside the TTAB’s typical oral hearing location (because it was selected by the TTAB to be part of the ABA’s IPLSpring continuing education conference in Bethesda, Maryland), the Supreme Court issued its… Continue Reading

Actually Resisting the Temptation to Tout Function and Hopefully Own a Trademark

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

Continuing our ramp up toward the launch of our Strategies for Owning Your Product Designs webinar next week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Morton-Norwich factors — the common analysis for determining whether a product design or feature can be owned as a trademark or whether it is functional and part of the public… Continue Reading