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Category Archives: TTAB

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Will the Velveeta Brand Melt into Laughter?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Dilution, False Advertising, Famous Marks, FDA Approval, Food, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Taste, Trademarks, TTAB

What do you think of when you hear the word Velveeta? Me too, childhood — complete with piping hot Campbell’s tomato soup — and perfectly melted grilled cheese sandwiches. Later in life, at least for me, came liquid gold and RO*TEL queso dip, usually on weekend game days. And, my daughter might add to the… Continue Reading

DYKES ON BIKES No Longer Idling After Matal v. Tam

Posted in First Amendment, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Simon Tam wasn’t the only one barred by the Lanham Act from reclaiming a historically derogatory term. Dykes on Bikes is a nonprofit lesbian motorcycle organization.  According to their website, the group’s mission is to “support philanthropic endeavors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and women’s communities, and to reach out to empower a community… Continue Reading

E-Sports Trademark Updates: MLB, Blizzard, ELEAGUE, and adidas

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Trademarks, TTAB

With the growing popularity of e-sports (multiplayer video-game sports competitions, often played by professional gamers for spectators–also stylized “eSports”), I’ve seen an increasing number of trademark disputes not only between video-game companies, but also between video-game companies and other non-electronics businesses selling physical goods or services.  It is interesting to observe the arguments regarding bridging the… Continue Reading

Is It Five O’Clock (or 1700 Hours) Somewhere?

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, TTAB

You’re probably familiar with the song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson. It was the number one country single of the year back in 2003. A few years later, Jimmy Buffet submitted several trademark applications based on the song, which are now registered, including for example, IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE and IT’S… Continue Reading

What Are You Thinking, Coke Zero?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB

  The above advertising billboard is plastered all over the Twin Cities at the moment, and it got me thinking, so here I am, once again, writing about Coke Zero, remember this can? Coke obtained a favorable decision from the TTAB early last year, ruling that ZERO is not generic for a soft drink category,… 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

Are pretzel crisps crumbling into genericness?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Marketing types and legal types who review labels, be well advised to choose words used carefully. In other words, if you believe you own rights in Pretzel Crisps as a trademark, it’s not wise to use the number of so-called “Crisps” as the serving size, especially with no trademark notice symbol. Frito-Lay’s successful 2014 generic… Continue Reading

A Special Thank You to Suzan Shown Harjo

Posted in Articles, Branding, First Amendment, Law Suits, Marketing, SoapBox, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the filing of the petition to cancel the R-Word registrations held by Pro-Football, Inc., the NFL franchise playing near the Nation’s capital. Indian Country Today has published an interview with Suzan Shown Harjo, lead petitioner in Harjo et al v. Pro-Football, Inc., and organizer of Blackhorse et al v…. 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

Joust Do It? A New Form of Nike Battle Cry?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

By now, you’re familiar with my enjoyment in capturing and sharing new billboard signage that hits the streets of the Twin Cities. Question, what tagline might have inspired this one? Was the Minnesota Renaissance Festival inspired by Nike’s famous “Just Do It” tagline? Almost four years ago now, we noted — in this gem from… Continue Reading

MLB to Oppose (maybe) Blizzard’s Overwatch League Logo

Posted in Branding, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Sight, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

If you’re a video game fan like me, you’re probably familiar with Blizzard Entertainment and their assortment of popular games, such as Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft. One of Blizzard’s newest games is Overwatch, a multi-player, first-person shooter game. One aspect of this game is the Overwatch League, a series of tournaments and live… 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

The Slants, The Redskins, and Free Speech for All Parties

Posted in First Amendment, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

This week’s Matal v. Tam (formerly Lee v. Tam) Supreme Court ruling serves as a reminder that free speech is a two-way street.  It also suggests the value of a sympathetic litigant, at least in terms of public response. Many rallied behind Simon Tam and his rock band, The Slants.  The band members, who are all… Continue Reading

USPTO Proposes Cheaper, Faster Cancellation Option

Posted in TTAB, USPTO

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office register contains a lot of dead weight. In order to obtain a trademark registration and maintain the registration, the owner must use the mark in U.S. interstate commerce (as always, with a few limited exceptions). What constitutes dead weight? Usually marks that are currently registered, but not actually used… Continue Reading

HAVANA CLUB: The Rum’s Back on Ice

Posted in Agreements, Branding, Counterfeits, Famous Marks, Food, Law Suits, TTAB, USPTO

-Wes Anderson, Attorney Last year, I blogged about the decades-long dispute for the HAVANA CLUB trademark in the United States. Nearly ten months later, well, its spirit lives on. To briefly recap: in one corner, Empresa Cubana Exportadora, an arm of the Cuban government, owns a registration for the HAVANA CLUB trademark. In the other corner,… Continue Reading

Congratulations to Howard University’s 2017 McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Team

Posted in Articles, Branding, First Amendment, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

It’s not every year that participants in the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition need to understand the various nuances of federal trademark law. Yet, with the Lee v. Tam case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act hanging in the balance, this was such a… Continue Reading

The Big Ten and the NCAA Tip Off for MARCH Marks

Posted in Dilution, Famous Marks, Goodwill, Infringement, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB

You don’t have to be a sports fan to be aware of MARCH MADNESS, the name associated with the annual tournament to determine the college basketball national champion. The tournament is organized by the National Collegiate Athletics Association. The name MARCH MADNESS is derived from the fact that the tournament occurs almost exclusively in March…. Continue Reading

McCarthy Institute Trademark Seminar 2017

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

One of the current challenges in trademark law addressed in Seattle last week at the Amazon Corporate Conference Center, host of the 2017 McCarthy Institute and Microsoft Corporation Symposium, is an issue we have discussed quite a bit here, namely Trademark Disparagement and the First Amendment. The panel to discuss this weighty topic included the… Continue Reading

It Is Not All In The Family

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB

Although a precedential decision allowing a “Family of Marks” to be considered in the context of an ex parte prosecution of an application that has been refused under Section 2(e)(1) to show acquired distinctiveness, this ruling could not help Little Caesars overcome the refusal of its application for the mark “DEEP!DEEP! DISH PIZZA.” Because “Deep… Continue Reading

“Pardon Me, PORTON,” says PATRON, “But We Heard You”

Posted in Famous Marks, Trademarks, TTAB

Pisco is a light-colored brandy traditionally produced in portions of Peru and Chile.  One brand that offers this product in the United States is PISCO PORTÓN (the latter word meaning “gate” in Spanish). Pisco Porton has a number of registrations including PORTÓN, PISCO PORTON, and PISCO PORTON THE AUTHENTIC PERUVIAN PISCO. The owners of PATRON… Continue Reading