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Category Archives: Fair Use

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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

When Names become Brand Names

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Contracts, Fair Use, Fashion, Goodwill, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. Genesis 2:19 Naming things is a fundamentally personal, human act that sometimes – in a profession all about brand names – we take for granted. It’s easy to forget when we are clearing, registering, and protecting names, that at a basic level we… Continue Reading

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

Classic Trademark Fair Use of Google Mark?

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

North Memorial Health must be spending significant advertising dollars at the moment, with a variety of ads appearing all over the Minneapolis skyway system, above is one current example. In addition, there are a series of humorous and sarcastic TV ads that were designed to poke the bear of our broken health care system, congrats to Brandfire on… Continue Reading

Federal Trademark Registration, the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech: Part III

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Of course, loyal readers have been eagerly awaiting Part III of the series (see Part I and Part II) focusing on Tam’s intersection of federal trademark registration and the First Amendment. In terms of the certain and practical implications flowing from the decision, it opens the door to a host of new trademark applications containing religious and… Continue Reading

Making Fair Use of the Super Bowl Trademark

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Over the weekend, the Star Tribune continued the growing drum beat of understandable excitement for Super Bowl LII, as it steadily approaches U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The article also plays the typical NFL-enabling drum beat of caution against local businesses that might see fit to fairly and truthfully reference the Super Bowl in some… Continue Reading

“Let’s Play:” DMCA Takedown Notices and Game Developer Acquiescence

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Technology

There is an entire gaming sub-culture developed around watching others play video games.  I’m not talking about gathering around the Game Cube in your friend’s basement and passing the only controller.  “Let’s Play” videos are game play videos made by players and posted or streamed online.  The videos usually include the players’ own running commentary,… Continue Reading

The Five-Finger Copyright Discount

Posted in Audio, Copyrights, Fair Use, False Advertising, Guest Bloggers, Infringement, International, Loss of Rights, Social Media

–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications Recently violinists Rhett Price and Shiva Chaitoo got two very different lessons on the downside of posting performances on the Internet. According to an article in The Boston Globe, a fan of Price alerted him to a video of Chaitoo’s playing. Turns out, Chaitoo was pulling a Milli Vanilli, fingering his… Continue Reading

2017 Minnesota State Fair Comes to a Close

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

Well, it’s official, the 2017 Minnesota State Fair is almost in the books now, it came and went, without the longstanding Original Deep Fried Cheese Curds stand (notwithstanding a heroic #savethecurds campaign); it was instead replaced by Big Fat Bacon, shown above. Love the prominent use of the TM on the signage, even if it… 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

Nominative Fair Use of Ride-Share Logos?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

Earlier this year, we contemplated a suitable, accurate, and efficient generic name for the service category created by the highly-disruptive Uber brand: App-Based Ride Service. A visit to Chicago this past weekend, left me thinking that Ride-Share Service or Ride Sharing are suitable alternatives, that appear to be gaining some traction, as seen here: The… Continue Reading

Help! Someone Copied My Stuff!

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement

At some point in this digital age, almost every individual or business in the creative space will discover that somebody has copied them. You may see it yourself, or you may get the stomach-dropping “Doesn’t this look an awful lot like…..” e-mail from a friend. It might be that potential client who said your design… Continue Reading

Hasbro thinks the Smell of Play-Doh Is a Trademark, will the USPTO Agree?

Posted in Fair Use, Non-Traditional Trademarks, USPTO

As we have discussed previously, trademark protection isn’t an exclusive club for words and pictures. Shapes, sounds, and even the tactile feel of a product can all qualify for trademark protection. And as a recent application from Hasbro shows, even the smell of a trademark might qualify for trademark protection. The mark set forth in… Continue Reading

Wawa Not Gaga Over Dawa?

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Contracts, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Genericide, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Technology, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Earlier this month, Wawa, an East Coast convenience store chain, demonstrated it is not gaga over a single location food mart (copy of complaint linked here), called Dawa: As Dawa has vowed to defend its name, will this case come down to a battle over the meanings of the marks? Do consumers really know and… Continue Reading

Second Circuit Agrees: Louis Vuitton Can’t Take a Joke

Posted in Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying

If you’re still looking for holiday gift for that special someone, the Second Circuit has your back. Fresh off the docket, the Second Circuit gave its blessing to My Other Bag’s line of parody canvas tote bags. For additional background, you can read our discussion of the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the… Continue Reading

It Is Not “Easy Like Sunday Morning” To Use Commodore As A Trademark

Posted in Fair Use, Law Suits, Trademarks

The band’s song “Easy” does not reflect Commodores’ founder Thomas McClary’s court battle to use the trademark “COMMODORES founder Thomas McClary” for his solo career.  As I dug further into the meaning of the song, it is actually about the relief of ending a really difficult relationship.  I guess it fits that the relationship, or… Continue Reading

A Handy List of Star Wars References that Might Get You Sued

Posted in Almost Advice, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Trademarks

With its purchase of Lucasfilms and the Star Wars franchise, Disney did not wait long to begin exploiting the works. Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released on Dec. 18, 2015 and grossed more than $2 billion at the box office. At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s a lot of money. More is… Continue Reading

Trademark satire is no joke to the City of Atlanta

Posted in Fair Use, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts

Check out this City of Atlanta Facebook page.  The funny thing is that it’s not run by the City of Atlanta.  Although the posts are titled “City of Atlanta” and use the City’s official seal, the page consists of satirical humor composed by Ben Palmer, an Atlanta resident.  Although the first post was only a couple weeks… Continue Reading

Austin’s SXSW Festival Wins Trademark “Fight” with the Australian Labor Party

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Goodwill, Infringement, International

Austin, Texas is well-known for its food, music scene, and of course its University of Texas Longhorns. The exclamation point on Austin’s notoriety though is the annual South by Southwest (a.k.a. SXSW) festival. Since its first year in 1987, the festival has grown into one of the largest music festivals in the world and, in… Continue Reading

Nihilist Arby’s: We Have The Tweets

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Marketing, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

-Wes Anderson, Attorney I recently came across this new piece of merchandise available for sale online: Look familiar? Those familiar with the restaurant chain Arby’s likely think so. The shirt is a product of the parody Twitter account @nihilist_arbys, created by a former writer for The Daily Show. With occasional references to current events, Nihilist Arby’s… Continue Reading

For Wrigley Field Street Vendors, It’s Win or Go Home

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Counterfeits, Fair Use, Fashion, Marketing, Trademarks

-Wes Anderson, Attorney The Chicago Cubs are rolling into the playoffs, putting the finishing touches on a historically dominant regular season with over 100 wins. Cubs fans (like me) even dare to dream that the century-plus long championship drought may finally come to an end this fall, if the team can carry its impressive form… Continue Reading

Timber! Will the Little Trees Car Freshener Configuration Trademark be Chopped Down?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

We wrote about the above trademark warning ad a few years back, and the claimed trademark owner likely recognizing vulnerability as to validity: “The idea generally is, let’s show and create a record that we are educating the public about our trademark rights and hopefully deterring misuses that otherwise might find their way into the public… Continue Reading