DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Tim Sitzmann

View my professional biography I have always considered myself to be a creative person. Full disclosure: I'm not claiming that I've created anything good, merely that I have created things that exist. Over the years I have made skateboarding movies, played bass and guitar in bands, acted in plays, written and performed sketch comedy, and even acted in an independent (i.e. very low-budget) zombie movie. Unfortunately none of these ever blossomed into a career. I guess it was the classic case of being ahead of your time. Thankfully these hobbies put me on a path to my current career as an intellectual property attorney. In fact, my first legal venture was obtaining copyrights for my band's debut (and only) album. I had considered law school as an option but I hadn't committed by the time I finished my undergraduate studies. To buy time I signed up for a student work visa and moved to London. Thanks to destiny, dumb luck, or both, I found a position in a law firm specializing in trademark law and brand management. It was my first exposure to the practice of law, and I quickly discovered that I had found my future career. When I'm not in the office, I spend my time playing my guitar, obsessing over baseball (go Twins!), or talking up a band, movie, or television show that has recently impressed me.

Posts by Tim Sitzmann

Intellectual Property Law Ruins the Party, Again

Posted in Copyrights, Goodwill, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks

Video games offer a melting pot of intellectual property: trademark law, copyright law, and even patent law all come together in a delicious mix of intangible property. However, not all video game franchises are equal. Few can claim the same level of longevity, success, and nostalgia as Nintendo’s Mario Brothers series. Among the most popular… Continue Reading

New NFL Season, New Trademark Fights

Posted in Branding, Goodwill, Infringement, Social Media, Trademarks, TTAB

As we move into Week 2 of the NFL, the big clash in North Country is Sunday’s Green Bay Packers – Minnesota Vikings game. All the buzz is whether the second-coming-of-Favre Aaron Rodgers will prevail over the vaunted Vikings defense. But here in my trademark bubble, I’m more interested in the Jacksonville Jaguars versus former… Continue Reading

Cheetos versus Peatos: Infringement or Overreach?

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Goodwill, Infringement

PepsiCo recently made waves with its purchase of SodaStream, but the company is now making news in the food business. This time the news is all about Pepsi’s Frito-Lay division, and its mischief making Chester Cheetah and his crunchy, cheesy, Cheetos brand. Pepsi recently sent a cease and desist letter to World Peas, a manufacturer… Continue Reading

Clash of the Cups: NHL Sues Over Stanley Cup Beer Mug

Posted in Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks, TTAB

Even in July, with the heat of summer still blazing, you can’t get away from ice hockey in Minnesota. However, now that the Vegas Golden Knights have settled their dispute with the U.S. Army, it was starting to look like we were running out of hockey trademark news. Thankfully, the National Hockey League came through… Continue Reading

Is Dr. Pepper Pulling (Hawaiian) Punches in Enforcement Efforts?

Posted in Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Trademarks

On a recent shopping trip, I couldn’t help but notice some interesting brand extensions inside and outside the stores. My encounter inside involved Burt’s Bees . The brand encompasses a wide variety of lip balms, lotions, cosmetics, and personal body care items. (pets, too). Yet I discovered a new addition to the lineup: Burt’s Bees… Continue Reading

Warby’s Fast Food: Can Arby’s Take a Joke?

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

Maybe you’ve heard of Warby Parker. The eye wear company has become quite successful in a previously monolithic industry. But a tongue-in-cheek advertising effort for a new onion ring monacle might just cross the line into provoking a trademark feud. See, Exhibit 1, below: And, for the main course: Even if Warby’s doesn’t actually sell… Continue Reading

USPTO Adds New Tool to Fight Fraud

Posted in Trademarks, USPTO

Yesterday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced a new pilot program to help fight fraudulent trademark applications. Specifically, the new program addresses situations where the applicant provided the USPTO with a fraudulent specimen to demonstrate use of the trademark. Only a narrow subset of fraudulent applications would be vulnerable to a claim under this… Continue Reading

The Elvis Presley Estate Loses Bid to Block ELVIS JUICE Beer

Posted in Dilution, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, International, Law Suits, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Trademark disputes involving breweries are nothing new, with breweries battling each other, wineries, and even cities over trademarks. We can now add estates of dead celebrities to the mix, as the Estate of Elvis Presley continues its battle against UK-based BrewDog over its ELVIS JUICE I.P.A. The Elvis Estate first attempted to resolve the dispute… Continue Reading

Trademark Enforcement in the Social Media Age

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Social Media, Trademark Bullying

Attorneys in general, and trademark attorneys in particular, have a reputation for heavy handedness. The traditional weapon of choice for these legal pugilist has been, and continues to be, ye olde cease and desist letter. A long, unnecessarily wordy letter sprinkled with “without authorization”‘s and “reserves all rights and remedies”‘s and other thinly veiled and… Continue Reading

Beer Brand Battles: David Takes on City Hall (with Goliath on the sidelines)

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Food, Infringement, Trademarks, USPTO

The City of Portland is known as a hub for craft beer, and its local government couldn’t be prouder. The Travel Portland website proudly proclaims that Portland is “home to more breweries than any other city on earth.” Yet the city’s relationship with the local craft beer scene is not so bubbly at the moment,… Continue Reading

Gucci: The Other Stripe Mark

Posted in Fashion, Genericide, Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks

Normally when we talk about stripes trademarks , we’re talking about iconic sportswear brand adidas. An avid litigant with respect to use of “three stripe” designs on footwear and clothing, adidas is a regular feature here at DuetsBlog, where we have discussed disputes with lululemon, Puma, and retail store Forever 21. But today we’re talking… Continue Reading

Former Rutgers Player Sues Alma Mater Over Nickname

Posted in Infringement

Moving along from Steve’s post on our alma mater of the University of Iowa, a former Rutgers football player has a more negative view of his former school. A few years ago, the Rutgers football program started allowing position groups to choose a nickname. The wide receivers are known as “Flight Crew,” the defensive linemen… Continue Reading

Game Over for Nestlé? Atari Sues Over “Breakout” Kit-Kat Ads

Posted in Advertising, Fair Use, Law Suits, Trademarks

For most of us, video games and candy go together perfectly, but that doesn’t mean they always get along. In fact, last week the “original” video game company, Atari Interactive, sued food and candy behemoth Nestlé in California federal court. What put Atari on tilt? It was Nestlé’s incorporation of the game play, layout, and… Continue Reading

Trick or Trademark? Mars Says Hershey’s Can’t Own “SCARY” Candy.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Idea Protection, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Sandwiched between 90 degree days in a Minnesota summer, the idea of Halloween wasn’t on my radar – until I learned about the latest dispute between candy giants Mars and Hershey’s. Mars and its subsidiary own many well-known candy brands, including M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Skittles, Life Savers, and others. Not to be outdone, Hershey maintains… Continue Reading

Is Foster’s Australian for False Advertising?

Posted in Advertising, False Advertising, Food, Law Suits, Trademarks, USPTO

While trademark infringement is the headliner for claims brought under the Lanham Act, the law also precludes false advertising and unfair competition. Most states also have laws addressing deceptive trade practices addressing similar misconduct by advertisers. Recently one consumer sued MillerCools under these laws, claiming he had been deceived into purchasing Fosters beer, thinking the… Continue Reading

USPTO Proposes Cheaper, Faster Cancellation Option

Posted in TTAB, USPTO

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office register contains a lot of dead weight. In order to obtain a trademark registration and maintain the registration, the owner must use the mark in U.S. interstate commerce (as always, with a few limited exceptions). What constitutes dead weight? Usually marks that are currently registered, but not actually used… Continue Reading