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Category Archives: Non-Traditional Trademarks

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Look-For Louboutin Kick-in-the-Pants Shoes?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fashion, International, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

A recent Mall of America and Nordstrom shopping trip (with visiting extended family), coupled with some initial moments of admitted boredom, led me to wandering through the shoe department: Let’s just say, the stroll through the shoe department made it all worthwhile, to capture the above image, showing Louboutin’s latest fashion sense, leading to my mental… 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

Color Marks: Looking for Look-for Advertising

Posted in Articles, Branding, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Packaging, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

These lime green building sites caught my eye and jogged my trademark memory. First, the future home of the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, at beam signing, on May 4, 2018: Second, the expansion of the Metro Transit headquarters near downtown Minneapolis, on June 12: Of course, the obviously common element of both building sites, besides… 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

Green Straws, Dots, Aprons, and Letters?

Posted in Agreements, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Starbucks is moving away from green straws, actually any plastic straws, to live a little more green. So, we’re unlikely to see any straw trademark filings, despite decent look-for advertising. While Starbucks appears to have drawn the short straw at the USPTO on its efforts to federally-register a pair of green dot marks, appeals to the TTAB are… Continue Reading

Celebrity Protects His and His Son’s IP

Posted in Articles, Civil Procedure, Counterfeits, Idea Protection, Law Suits, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks

DJ Khaled and his son’s company sued an online retailer named Curtis Bordenave and his company, Business Moves Consulting, Inc., alleging that they are illegally using his and his son Asahd’s intellectual property. Most of you likely know who DJ Khaled is, but I had not heard of him before reading about this dispute.  When… Continue Reading

The Law Rewards Creativity

Posted in Articles, Branding, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks

Toward the end of last week, a couple of friendly ironmongers (John Welch and Ron Coleman) had an interesting dialogue on Twitter, with some great insights about creativity and the law. John noted that copyright’s requirement of “originality” is not the same as the requirement of “novelty” in patent law. Ron then weaved in some nice… Continue Reading

White Color Trademark Goes Up in Flames

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Look-For Ads, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Sight, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

A couple of years ago, our friend John Welch over at the TTABlog reported about a white color trademark that had acquired distinctiveness, according to a rare precedential TTAB decision: No, that’s not a roll of toilet paper, it’s a preformed gunpowder charge for use in muzzleloading rifles. And the applied-for mark was described as… 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

Amazon Smiles With Iconic Non-Verbal Logo?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks, USPTO

Yesterday, while on the highway heading to a client meeting, I noticed a truck that looked like this: It reminded me of the plentiful ink we’ve spilled over the years about singular iconic non-verbal logos that can truly stand alone. Remember Seth Godin’s generous insights shared, here? Given the dominant display of Amazon’s non-verbal logo shown above (without the Amazon… 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

Snickers Has a Cross Section TM Registration!

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Trademarks, USPTO

It is frequently becoming more and more difficult to remember all the topics we’ve covered here over the last — almost — nine years. A recent Snickers end cap display jogged my memory: Turns out, eight months into this little adventure we call DuetsBlog, I wrote a blog post called Delicious Trademarks: Candy Bar Cross-Section Trademarks? Then, a… 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

Super Bowl Ambush Marketing Games Begin?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, False Advertising, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks

We continue to have Super Bowl LII on our minds here in the Twin Cities. It’s hard to avoid thinking about the upcoming “Big Game” with ads like these blanketing our skyway maze: Turns out, everyone wants to have a little piece of the action in this upcoming event, even without the formality and cost… Continue Reading

Happy (Registered Trademark) Holidays!

Posted in Branding, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

December is one of the largest shopping months of the year, due mostly to the overlap of multiple major holidays, such as Hanukkah and Christmas, and the coming new year. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that several companies and creatives invoke the spirit of the holidays through festive marks–to great financial gain. But you might… Continue Reading

All That Glitters is Not One to Mold

Posted in Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Product Configurations, Product Packaging

To me, one of the most exciting aspects of intellectual property law is when patent law and trademark law intersect in product or packaging design.  Last week, I had the honor of speaking to a graduate product design class at the University of Minnesota’s School of Design, where I discussed the valuable strategy of having… Continue Reading

John Deere: These Colors Don’t Run

Posted in Branding, Dilution, Law Suits, Look-For Ads, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks

Growing up with a farm in the family, I learned early on that Nothing Runs Like Deere®.  As people tend to do, we named all of the tractors –  after Masters of the Universe characters, of course.  There was a front-loader type tractor of a brand I don’t recall named Skelator, another old tractor named… 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

Some Subtle Stories Make Great Trademarks

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Look-For Ads, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks, USPTO

One of my passions is to find common and favorable ground between legal and marketing types. One of the readings during week three of Seth Godin’s intensive altMBA workshop reminded me of a great example to illustrate how a valid marketing goal can align with strong legal protection. An excerpt from Seth’s All Marketers are Liars book was… 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