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Category Archives: Infringement

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Dog Toy Manufacturers Really Like Parodies

Posted in Dilution, Famous Marks, Fashion, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging, Trademarks

A dog toy display at a local pet store caught my attention recently. I did a double take on seeing the familiar fonts, coloring, and packaging.  Not long after, I happened to find these at a different pet store. Once again, the familiar labels, coloring, and bottle designs caught my attention. While certainly reminiscent of… Continue Reading

It’s Not a Wonderful Trademark Examination

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

It’s a wonderful life, collaborating with brand owners and marketing teams to advance their goals. Our work for brand owners also involves a collaboration of sorts with the U.S. Trademark Office. We work with the USPTO to obtain registrations for our clients and this triggers USPTO obligations. As such, when examining applications, the USPTO must search its records for… Continue Reading

Can a YouTube Video Invalidate a Patent? It’s Certainly Possible

Posted in Articles, Audio, Infringement, Law Suits, Patents, Search Engines, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Television, USPTO

One of the most common defenses to patent infringement is that the asserted patent is invalid. The reasons for invalidity regularly range from lack of utility, to incorrect inventorship, and even to fraud (as I’ve recently written about). Often, the defendant asserts that the patent is invalid for lack of novelty or non-obviousness–pointing to some… Continue Reading

Buc-ee’s Beaver Chomps Reptilian Competitor

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Sight, Trademarks

About a week ago, we reported on an interesting case out of the Southern District of Texas involving two competing convenience stores with cartoon animal mascots: Buc-ee’s (a beaver) and Choke Canyon (an alligator). As someone who has personally visited Buc-ee’s stores, I can tell you that they are quite the destination. Buc-ee’s tend to… Continue Reading

“Square Donuts” – Generic for Cafe Services?

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, USPTO

Two businesses in Indiana are squaring off in a trademark lawsuit over the right to use the term Square Donuts for…well, square-shaped donuts. Back in 2005, Square Donuts, a cafe with four locations in Indiana, sent a letter to Family Express (a convenience store chain with 70 locations in Indiana), demanding that Family Express cease… 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

Trader Joe’s Takes on Trademark “Schmo”

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Sound, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

In recent USPTO news, Trader Joe’s, the supermarket chain known for its eclectic and unique foodstuffs, recently filed an opposition to registration of the mark “Trader Schmo,” which is described as designating a wide variety of Kosher foods. Understandably, Trader Joe’s took issue with the mark, and particularly its use in the food category. The… Continue Reading

What Will Happen To The New Prince Songs

Posted in Audio, Copyrights, Famous Marks, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits

There is a battle brewing over songs by Minnesota’s own Prince.  I, for one, am anxious for the dispute to be resolved so we can enjoy these recordings. Who knows, there may be another worldwide hit “Purple Rain” out there. The initial lawsuit was brought by Prince’s company Paisley Park Enterprises, which is now owned… 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

PTAB-Lovers Rejoice; IPR Lives!

Posted in Articles, Infringement, Law Suits, Patents, USPTO

Five months ago to the day, I predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold inter partes review (“IPR”) proceedings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) as constitutional in Oil States v. Greene Energy. On April 24, 2018, the Court so-held. Back in November, the questions at oral argument in Oil States raised… Continue Reading

Tattoo Artists’ IP Rights Only Skin-Deep

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts

  WWE wrestler Randy Orton has some unique ink on his arms and back, created by tattoo artist Catherine Alexander.  Orton—and his tattoos—are featured in the WWE 2K video games.  Alexander claims ownership of copyright in the tattoos, and is suing WWE and the makers of the video games for their depiction of the original… Continue Reading

Update: Stone Brewing v. MillerCoors – Answer and Counterclaims

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

A couple months ago, I posted about the contentious trademark battle involving Stone Brewing Co., a craft brewery based in California, who filed a trademark infringement complaint against giant beer conglomerate MillerCoors LLC and Molson Coors Brewing Co. (“MillerCoors”). The complaint is based on the recent rebranding of the MillerCoors “Keystone” beer, which separates and places greater… 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

When Does My Pillow Become Your Windfall?

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Articles, Branding, Goodwill, Infringement, Keyword Ads, Marketing, Television, Trademarks

Mike Lindell, has built an impressive business around a pretty simple brand name and trademark: We’ve previously written about the MyPillow trademark, noting the apparently narrow scope of rights it enjoys, as a result of the coexistence with some pretty similar marks, including this one: Earlier this year, My Pillow filed a complaint in federal district court in… Continue Reading

Glade No. 1, 2, 3, 4, and… Chanel No. 5?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sight, Smell, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

Recently, a friend and I were watching The Bachelor—I know, I should be ashamed. During one of the commercial breaks, a spot appeared on-screen showing a woman wearing an elegant dress walking through a hallway. She turns into a doorway, and blue, shimmering light projects onto her face, as if she was underwater. A speaker… Continue Reading

“Brother Thelonious” Monk’s Likeness Protectable Decades After Death

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Contracts, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks

Earlier this month, a California federal judge kept alive a suit brought by the estate of famous jazz musician Thelonious Monk against North Coast Brewing Co. for trademark infringement and infringement of the right of publicity. The dispute centers around North Coast’s popular “Brother Thelonious” Beligan-style abbey ale (beer seems to be on the mind here… Continue Reading

Stone Brewing v. MillerCoors: A Key(STONE) Trademark Battle

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, USPTO

Stone Brewing Co., an independent craft brewery based in California, has filed a trademark infringement complaint against MillerCoors LLC and Molson Coors Brewing Co. (collectively “MillerCoors”). The complaint is based on the recent rebranding of the MillerCoors “Keystone” beer. The rebranded packaging separates “Keystone” into two words, with the smaller word “KEY” on a separate… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Verdict Makes Grumpy Cat Smile

Posted in Contracts, Copyrights, Dilution, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

For anyone unfamiliar with internet cat personalities, Grumpy Cat is a well-known feline whose dwarfism and underbite culminate in a perpetual—and adorable—sour expression.  Grumpy Cat’s real name is Tardar Sauce.  In 2012, when Tardar Sauce was only a few months old, she became an internet sensation after a photo of her endearing scowl was posted… Continue Reading

Who Owns the Trademark Rights to Tesla/SpaceX’s Roadster?

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

Today I write with a thought-provoking question: Just who owns the trademark rights to Telsa/SpaceX’s Spaceman Roadster? Tesla? SpaceX? Perhaps even humanity? If you didn’t catch it, SpaceX recently launched its first Falcon Heavy three-booster rocket designed to carry large payloads into space. In a stunning feat of engineering and genius marketing, the rocket sent… Continue Reading