Every time I leave the annual FUSE conference (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) — appropriately dubbed The Event for Design & Brand Strategists, I return home infused with extra creative energy, and this year in New York City was no exception, so please brace yourselves dear readers.
-Wes Anderson, Attorney
A bit belated, but I finally caught a screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Unbeknownst to me, the film was missing a part of the Star Wars experience many fans hold dear. And it’s all about branding.
Note: No spoilers of the film itself follow here, unless you consider a discussion…
– Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC
On Monday, the University of Oregon and The Ohio State University will play in college football’s first College Football Playoff championship game. DuetsBlog has previously covered the trademark issues surrounding BCS Properties’ attempt to register College Football Playoff as a trademark in connection with college football playoff games here. Even if College Football Playoff ultimately fails as a trademark, Monday’s championship game will be awash in trademarks and intellectual property. Consider this your DuetsBlog guide to the game.
UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
We’ll start with Oregon, and begin with a little history. In 1859, Congress required Oregon to set aside land for a state university as a condition for admittance into the Union. Oregon chose land in Eugene, and, in the mid-1870s, began building what is today the University of Oregon®, or Oregon®, or just UO®. Although all eyes will be on the Oregon Ducks’® football team on Monday night, Eugene may be better known to many as Track Town USA® thanks to the success of Oregon’s track team under Bill Bowerman in the 1960s and 70s. During that time Bill Bowerman introduced jogging to the American public, coached the legend Steve Prefontaine, met Phil Knight, and started Nike, Inc.
Nike has maintained a strong relationship with Oregon ever since, hiring grad Tinker Hatfield in the 80s to design Air Jordan shoes (but not the ones blogged about here) and grad Dan Weiden’s agency Weiden-Kennedy, to coin the tag line “Just Do It” while developing TV ads like “Bo Knows” to sell newly invented cross-training shoes (also designed by Tinker Hatfield.) Today, Nike designs not only Oregon’s football uniforms, but also the special uniforms for all four teams that played in the College Football Playoffs, branding them from head to toe, and even hands:
The Star Wars series is truly an exceptional franchise, having broken box office records, creating legions of fans, and bringing the idea of collateral merchandise licensing to an unprecedented level. Also, how many other films are top hits at the box office in three different decades, even when all you’ve done is add a few…
Deadmau5 (‘ded-mau̇s; a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman) is a popular house music artist who performs wearing a mouse-like head covering called the mau5head. On Twitter he calls himself an “Event Driven Marketing specialist,” so I thought this was a fitting subject for the hip legal, creative and marketing folks who follow us here at DuetsBlog – although…
English Company THOIP asserted its rights to a family of unregistered trademarks in a children’s book series involving cartoon characters called “Mr. Men” and “Little Miss” by suing the king of the cartoon characters—Walt Disney Company (and related companies). The products at the center of the dispute are t-shirts. You may have seen…
—Dave Taylor, Taylor Brand Group
Think of your favorite brands of clothing, beverages, restaurants, or insurance–any product or service you like and purchase. You could probably name two brands or more in every category in addition to competitive brands that you’ve chosen not to buy, or haven’t bothered to try. Take a little bit of…
–Dan Kelly, Attorney
Last Friday, MVL Rights, LLC, a Disney subsidiary and apparent owner of rights in the HULK name and character of Marvel Comics origin, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against Airbase Industries, LLC regarding Airbase’s use of HULK in connection with air compressors. [Insert obligatory Hulk-angry-lawsuit quip here.] The first newsflash I read reported that Airbase’s HULK-branded compressors are green (like the Marvel Comics Hulk character). Even so, without further investigation, knowing only the word marks (identical) and goods and services of the parties (fictional character vs. air compressors), and potential color similarity, I reserved initial judgment, envisioning a host of scenarios that could cut in different directions, for or against either party.
A back-of-the-envelope trademark infringement analysis usually focuses on the two leading elements in the likelihood of confusion analysis: the similarity of the marks and the similarity of the goods. Here, the word components of the marks are identical–both are HULK. The goods and services? Much more difficult. I am not accustomed to seeing comic-book characters adorn or endorse shop equipment, but I suppose it is not beyond the realm of possibility. The word “hulk,” after all, has a dictionary definition of “a large or unwieldy boat or other object,” which could describe or suggest many types of shop equipment. (In terms of a character to endorse or sponsor heavy-duty shop equipment, I suppose that a company could do worse than The Hulk. On the other hand, he is not terribly eloquent and is a bit juvenile.)
Today I had time to actually review the complaint and exhibits filed with the complaint, and here’s an image of the accused infringing goods:
–Sharon Armstrong, Attorney
Lest you think this post is just an excuse to post the ridiculously viral video of The Muppets singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” guess again. There is a trademark lesson here.
Do I still have your attention? The lesson is this – you, the consumer, don’t need to know what the source of…