DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Tucker Chambers

View my professional biography

I’ve always been fascinated by brands, logos, slogans, and other creative works. I remember in my first year of middle school, asking my parents for the Adidas “three stripe” shoes to match my friends at school. And I vividly recall various McDonald’s commercials and billboards, with the golden arches and the ubiquitous slogans, such as “We Love to See You Smile” (which, in my teenage years, changed to the allegedly hipper slogan “i’m lovin’ it”). And other endless logos and characters would intrigue me at the grocery store. I remember wondering why the little ® and © symbols were there, and what they meant—and eventually, this all led to an interest in trademarks and copyright law.

I was also drawn to intellectual property law based on my interests in technology, computers, and robotics. In my high school years, a small group of friends started a robotics team and asked me to join. We built a makeshift robot (primarily from plywood and pool noodles) and somehow ended up winning a regional competition. The following year (with a significantly more sophisticated robot), we advanced to the national championship.

My interest in practicing intellectual property law also grew through my law school courses and research work with my intellectual property professor, Ruth Okediji. In particular, one of my courses allowed me to embark on a week of extracurricular traveling to conduct pro bono work for a non-profit organization, including a visit to Tetiaroa in French Polynesia (a two-square-mile atoll, about three hours by boat from Tahiti). I worked diligently on some trademark matters, while sitting by the beach, sipping on fresh coconut water. Needless to say, that beach-side adventure set a high bar for the real-world practice of intellectual property law—but thus far I have not been disappointed.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife and family, trying out new restaurants in the Twin Cities area (especially Italian and Latin American), playing tennis, and catching up on my favorite TV shows (current favorite: Stranger Things) or watching movies—especially spy thrillers, mind-benders, or futuristic sci-fi (all-time favorite: Inception).

Posts by Tucker Chambers

Call of Duty Trademark Lawsuit: A Humvee Humdinger

Posted in Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

AM General, manufacturer of Humvee military vehicles, has sued Activision Blizzard for trademark infringement, based on the use of the “Humvee” and “HMMWV” marks for the virtual military vehicles displayed in Activision’s Call of Duty video games. See the complaint here, filed last week in the Southern District of New York. For those of you who are not avid… Continue Reading

E-Sports Trademark Updates: MLB, Blizzard, ELEAGUE, and adidas

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Trademarks, TTAB

With the growing popularity of e-sports (multiplayer video-game sports competitions, often played by professional gamers for spectators–also stylized “eSports”), I’ve seen an increasing number of trademark disputes not only between video-game companies, but also between video-game companies and other non-electronics businesses selling physical goods or services.  It is interesting to observe the arguments regarding bridging the… Continue Reading

Is It Five O’Clock (or 1700 Hours) Somewhere?

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, TTAB

You’re probably familiar with the song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson. It was the number one country single of the year back in 2003. A few years later, Jimmy Buffet submitted several trademark applications based on the song, which are now registered, including for example, IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE and IT’S… Continue Reading

An Update from Mars: “CocoVaa” Dispute Resolved

Posted in Agreements, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Earlier this year, I posted about a dispute between candy company Mars Inc. and a small business based in Wisconsin, selling handmade fine chocolates under the mark CocoVaa. In March, Mars Inc. filed a federal trademark infringement complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia, asserting that its registered CocoaVia® mark (Reg. No. 4179465), for a dietary supplement powder, was being… Continue Reading

Cheerios Registration Refused for Yellow Color Mark

Posted in Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, TTAB

For the past couple years, General Mills has battled to register a yellow color mark in connection with its Cheerios® breakfast cereal.  More specifically, back in 2015, General Mills applied to register (Serial No. 86757390) the mark shown below, described as “the color yellow appearing as the predominant uniform background color on product packaging for the… Continue Reading

Kerrygold Update: A Buttery Settlement

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging, Trademarks, USPTO

A few months ago I posted about a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Ornua, seller of Kerrygold® Pure Irish Butter, against Defendants Old World Creamery and Eurogold USA, who briefly sold Irish butter under the mark Irishgold. The court granted Ornua’s motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO), concluding that Ornua had a reasonable likelihood of success on its trademark infringement… Continue Reading

Registrations for Golden Knights Still Refused…Partially

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, USPTO

Another update on my series of posts following the newest NHL expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the difficult time they’re having prosecuting their trademark applications. The applicant Black Knight Sports and Entertainment LLC (I’ll call applicant “the team”) applied to register LAS VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS and VEGAS GOLDEN NIGHTS in connection with… Continue Reading

MLB to Oppose (maybe) Blizzard’s Overwatch League Logo

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

If you’re a video game fan like me, you’re probably familiar with Blizzard Entertainment and their assortment of popular games, such as Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft. One of Blizzard’s newest games is Overwatch, a multi-player, first-person shooter game. One aspect of this game is the Overwatch League, a series of tournaments and live… Continue Reading

PayPal v. Pandora: Is Music Streaming Related to Financial Services?

Posted in Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Technology, Trademarks

PayPal, one of the world’s largest online payment companies, has brought a trademark infringement suit against Pandora Media, Inc., the provider of an online music streaming service and application. PayPal alleges that its blue “PP” design mark (below, left) is infringed by Pandora’s recently re-designed blue “P” design mark (below, right). The complaint alleges federal claims of false designation… Continue Reading

The Covfefe Kerfuffle and the Rush to Register Trending Terms

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, USPTO

While many of us are working our way through the flood of thought-provoking analysis of Matal v. Tam, I’m taking a break with some lighter fare, namely, covfefe. In case you missed it, the viral non-word “covfefe” was born out of a supposedly meaninglessly typo (perhaps a misspelling of “coverage”) in one of President Trump’s early morning tweets (alternatively,… Continue Reading

An Update on the M22 Road Sign Dispute

Posted in Branding, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

A brief update on my post last year regarding the “M22” road sign trademark lawsuit, Michigan v. M22 LLC, No. 1:16-cv-01084 (W.D. Mich.) As a quick refresher, Michigan State Highway M-22 is a popular, scenic route that borders Lake Michigan along the Leelanau Peninsula. Along this route, there are numerous “M22” route marker signs. The Michigan company M22 sells… Continue Reading

“Google” Still Not (Yet) Generic

Posted in Domain Names, Famous Marks, Genericide, Law Suits, Trademarks, USPTO

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a significant opinion on the topic of genericness, Elliott v. Google, Inc., No. 15-15809. The opinion affirmed a federal district court’s grant of summary judgment that “GOOGLE” trademark registrations (Reg. Nos. 2884502, 2806075) are not subject to cancellation for genericness. Genericness a.k.a. “genericide” occurs when… Continue Reading

Trademark Butter Battle: Kerrygold v. Irishgold

Posted in Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging

You’ve probably heard of and/or eaten Kerrygold® Pure Irish Butter, a deliciously popular (but higher-priced) butter imported from Ireland, made with milk from grass-fed cows. It’s available in most stores across the United States…except for Wisconsin. Sorry to all my Wisconsin friends, you’re missing out. However, the butter is so popular that there have been… Continue Reading

Mars – Helping You Work, Rest & Play (and improve blood circulation?)

Posted in Advertising, Infringement, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

While browsing my daily trademark news and digesting some recent chocolate-related trademark litigation, to be discussed below, I happened upon some interesting discussions and histories of slogans for candy, including in particular, the MARS® chocolate bar. Back in 1960, Mars Inc. debuted its slogan for the MARS® chocolate bar: “A Mars a Day, Helps You Work,… Continue Reading

Amazon’s Latest Trademark Battle: A Race Against “Chime”

Posted in Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Technology, Trademarks

Last month, Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) announced a new application, Amazon Chime, for online meetings, including video and voice conferencing, chat, and screen sharing. Amazon Chime will compete against a crowd of other well-established products with similar services, such as GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, and Skype. Just two weeks after Amazon Chime was announced, on February 22, AWS was… Continue Reading

Celebrity Trademark Battle: “The Kitchen”

Posted in Genericide, Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

World-famous chef Wolfgang Puck recently became embroiled in a trademark battle with Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur who owns The Kitchen Cafe, a family of restaurants in Boulder, Fort Collins, Denver, Glendale, and Chicago. Puck has opened new restaurants with the names “The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck” and “The Kitchen Counter… Continue Reading

Adidas v. Puma: Another three-stripe lawsuit

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Marketing

We’ve written on several occasions (for example, here, here, and here) about the aggressive policing by Adidas of its well-known “three-stripe” mark for shoes, including attempts to enforce its mark against other two-stripe or four-stripe designs (with some success). Adidas is at it again, with a new lawsuit asserting trademark infringement based on Puma’s four-stripe design for a… 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

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 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

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