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Category Archives: Non-Traditional Trademarks

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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

The Brand With 3 Stripes, Bands, or Stitches?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve written a lot over the years about Adidas’ three-stripe non-verbal, non-traditional trademark. Turns out, Adidas actually owns a federally-registered trademark for the verbal, spelled-out, look-for advertising equivalent too, called: The Brand With The 3 Stripes®. We haven’t until now probed the meaning of “stripe” though: “A long narrow band or strip, typically of the… Continue Reading

The End Times for Brands?

Posted in Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks

Several years ago I wrote a post about Selfridges’ “No Noise” campaign, featuring de-branded items from brands like Heinz, Clinique, and Levi’s.  In that post, I asked whether de-branded design would soon become a new trend. It looks like we might be there at least in theory with Brandless, a startup retailer that, as today’s Wall… Continue Reading

Chartreuse Color Trademark Still on the Loose

Posted in Articles, Branding, International, Law Suits, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

Back in December we wrote about a trademark infringement case (Weems v. Plews) involving claimed exclusive rights in the color chartreuse as applied to various kinds of hoses. Since then, Plews has been busy trying to short circuit the case and have the unregistered (common law) trademark infringement claims dismissed, contending Weems did not adequately… Continue Reading

Stripe Three, Adidas Called a Trademark Bully

Posted in Agreements, Articles, Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Trademark bullying allegations are in the news again. Not only is Forever 21 calling Adidas a trademark bully for asserting rights in the three stripe design mark, it is asking a federal court to say it has not done anything wrong and award it fees: “Tired of operating with a cloud over its head with… 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

Checking in on Sony’s “Lens-Style Camera” Application

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks

-Wes Anderson, Attorney Way back in 2015, I blogged about an interesting non-traditional configuration mark application from Sony for its QX100 “Smartphone Attachable Lens-Style Camera” with the PTO. Here we are nearly two years later, and Sony’s battle continues. As expected, the USPTO has refused registration of Sony’s mark on two main fronts: the functionality of… Continue Reading

NASCAR Brand Gasoline at a Pump Near You?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Contracts, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Smell, Taste, Trademarks, USPTO

With the Strafford Publications webinar later today discussing the Lanham Trademark Act’s “Use in Commerce” requirement, with some of my favorite panelists no less, the topic has been on my mind, even when pumping gas into my rental car in Houston, Texas, this past weekend: So, what do folks think, does this photograph of a… Continue Reading