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Category Archives: Advertising

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If Only HoneyCrisp Was an Apple Trademark

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

Yeah, we usually mean this Apple, when we spill digital ink, not today, instead the edible varieties: Hat tip to Erik Pelton who tweeted about the federal registration of LUDACRISP for fresh apples. We know something about non-ludicrous trademark protection for apples > First Kiss and Rave. They are newly minted brands for the MN55 Apple, a cross… Continue Reading

Time for a Pillow Fight?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Look-For Ads, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Trademarks

Like many new parents, my wife and I own a Boppy® infant support pillow.  Examining the packaging, I noticed an excellent example of “look-for advertising:” Typically, look-for advertising is part of a campaign to build consumer recognition of a product design to a level where it can support a claim of “acquired distinctiveness,” that is,… Continue Reading

Budweiser and Jim Beam on the Same Team

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

In April, news broke that two iconic alcohol brands were joining forces to create a remarkable new beer: Jim Beam Budweiser Copper Lager. Fruit of the joint labor is now available for consumption: The unique combination doesn’t appear destined to fall flat, as in the early days since launch, it seems to be attracting even… Continue Reading

A Zero Sum Game in the Trademark World?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Product Packaging, SoapBox, USPTO

We’ve had a lot of nothing — meaning zero, and the trademark meaning, if any, of zero — on our mind lately, so imagine my surprise to see this soap “brand” for the first time last week in a hotel: Not sure how to pronounce it, but as we know, there really is no “correct”… Continue Reading

No What? ZERO Means 0 and 0 Means ZERO!

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

Taking our discussion about Coke Zero a little further than Monday’s discussion, is it any wonder that “zero” stands for nothing, none, nada, when it comes to calories, given icons like this one: In other words, it doesn’t and it can’t hold trademark significance for calorie-free, no-calorie, or zero-calorie food products and beverages, and spelling out “0” as ZERO… Continue Reading

Coke Opening ZERO Genericness Floodgates?

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

We’ve been writing about the COKE ZERO trademark for nearly a decade now, noting in 2014: “[I]t will be worth watching to see whether the [TTAB] finds that ‘ZERO’ primarily means Coke or just a soft drink having ‘no calories, you know, a drink about nothing . . . .’” Turns out, in May 2016, Coke obtained a favorable… Continue Reading

Cat Calling Attention to Women’s Footwear?

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

When ideas from different realms converge in a single moment of time, a new blog post is born. “Catcalling” — albeit a rebranded, reimagined, or redefined version of it — recently has been front and center in a political Twitter storm and remains a lightning rod in the non-stop news cycle. So, imagine my surprise also to see the sturdy Cat… Continue Reading

Billy Goats, Trademark Twins, and the Descriptive Limits of Language

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

I’ve been thinking about the nature of language lately, ever since I listened to a podcast about various philosophers who devoted their study to language. For example, Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, is famous for his work on the logic of language. A fundamental premise to his philosophy is that… Continue Reading

No Gold TM Stars for This Red Star Brand!

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Food, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Product Packaging, Trademarks

As I’ve been known to do long before now, this past weekend I found myself gazing intently, this time, into the front label and back copy on this S. Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water bottle: Putting aside the question of the shiny red star logo, which we already have bloviated about, here, a few years… Continue Reading

Vacuum Wars: On-Product Comparative Ads?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, First Amendment, Infringement, Marketing, Technology, Trademarks

When can a brand owner lawfully use a competitor’s trademark on the brand owner’s product? Over the years, we’ve lifted away a lot of dust on the hairy subjects of classic trademark fair use, nominative fair use, and comparative advertising, especially in the context of billboard ads. It isn’t every day we see comparative billboard ads actually affixed to… Continue Reading

Buc-ee’s Fights ‘Tooth and Nail’ For Total Texas Takedown

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Sight, Trademarks

Recently, we have been covering updates from a trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition action between Buc-ee’s and Choke Canyon, two rival Texas convenience stores with endless rows of gas pumps and checkout lanes (everything’s bigger in Texas, you know; even gas stations). About a month ago, a Texas jury found that the Choke Canyon… Continue Reading

Velcro Sequel Sticks With “Hook and Loop”

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

On the heels of discussing trademark genericide through the Anything is Popsicle prism yesterday, let us turn our attention back to Velcro, who is at it again, this time making a genericide sequel. The sequel is called “Thank You for Your Feedback — Don’t Say Velcro.” Like any sequel I’ve ever seen, I’m not feeling Velcro’s second… Continue Reading

Mission Popsicle: Telling You It’s a Brand?

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

Welcome to another edition of Genericide Watch, where we consider brands on the edge, working hard to maintain brand status and exclusive rights, while trying to avoid trademark genericide. The primary meaning to the relevant public decides genericness, so trademark owners will try to influence how consumers understand the word, to maintain at least 51% brand meaning. As we’ve written… Continue Reading

A Minnowsotan Perspective on TM Disclaimers

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

There is at least one more 2018 Rapala billboard out there, just netted this one over the weekend: Rapala’s clever Minnowsotan billboard inspired me to cast a few lines about the law concerning trademark disclaimers, as they often reel in some great questions from branding professionals. Tim did a helpful post on trademark disclaimers, guiding why the USPTO requires them, their legal implications, and encouraging brand owners to properly… Continue Reading

Good Translation/Bad Translation

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Branding, Guest Bloggers, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging, Squirrelly Thoughts

-Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash Name Development When you finally identify a name for your business, product or service, you must conduct proper due diligence to ensure that you have a legal right to use the name. Trademark searches are mandatory and I’d strongly recommend talking to a great trademark attorney. A little upfront time and money… Continue Reading

At INTA 2018: Trademarks and Free Speech

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Yesterday in Seattle — where nearly 11,000, sleepless, brand protection, trademark, and IP professionals from 150 countries have registered and converged for INTA’s 140th Annual Meeting — yours truly had the distinct pleasure of sharing some thoughts on the intersection between federal trademark registration and Free Speech. Here are some before, during and after pics:… Continue Reading

Hamm It Up? The Latest Brand to Verb It Up!

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

It’s been a little while since the last example we’ve shared showing a brand turning its face, or a blind eye, on age-old rigid trademark advice, counseling against using a brand name as a verb. Given the more common trend of many alcoholic beverage brands focusing attention and their messaging on drinking responsibly, MillerCoors has made… Continue Reading

Rapala’s 2018 Fishing Opener Billboard Ads

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Trademarks

What would Mother’s Day be, at least in Minnesota, without the fishing opener near by? What would another fishing opener be without Rapala’s distinctive slate of billboard ads? Here is an engaging pair of billboard ads currently running, if you’ve seen others, let us know: My personal favorite between them would be Wassup, dock? — love the double… Continue Reading

Uncertain Case of Google Trademark Fair Use

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Articles, Branding, Contracts, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Marketing, Search Engines, Trademarks

Aren’t digital advertising billboards amazing? My iPhone captured this rolling series of images just yesterday, for a health care organization using the Google trademark in the Minneapolis skyway: My questions, permission, co-branding, no permission, but classic or nominative fair use? Is Google flattered? Free advertising? Do they care? Should they care? Discuss, to quote John Welch,… Continue Reading