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Category Archives: USPTO

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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

A Minnowsotan Perspective on TM Disclaimers

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

There is at least one more 2018 Rapala billboard out there, just netted this one over the weekend: Rapala’s clever Minnowsotan billboard inspired me to cast a few lines about the law concerning trademark disclaimers, as they often reel in some great questions from branding professionals. Tim did a helpful post on trademark disclaimers, guiding why the USPTO requires them, their legal implications, and encouraging brand owners to properly… Continue Reading

Scandalous Trademark Applications On Hold

Posted in Articles, Branding, First Amendment, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Trademarks consisting of or comprising “scandalous or immoral” matter still won’t be granted federal registration “in the name of the United States of America,” at least for the time being. Immediately on the heels of the International Trademark Association’s 140th Annual Meeting in Seattle, and our well-received panel discussion concerning Trademarks and Free Speech, the United… 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

The Uncertain Case of Deadwood Trademarks

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Articles, Branding, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Last week, I enjoyed the privilege of returning to Iowa City (where it all began) for Executive Leadership Board Meetings at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. Great meetings there! During a stroll through downtown, I was reminded of Deadwood, a legendary Iowa City tavern, so I snapped a few photos, having long forgotten the creative tagline — Institute of… Continue Reading

Owning Some TM Happiness: Bubly ≠ Bubbly?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, Truncation, USPTO

For a few months now, the Minneapolis skyway system has been flooded with a variety of fresh, creative, eye-popping advertising to promote Pepsi’s new bubly sparkling water collection: Although not a lie (the bottles I’ve seen clearly reference Pepsi), you’d never know from this ad or the trademark registration that Pepsi is behind bubly, since an Irish entity… 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

The USPTO Goes to Washington

Posted in Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Last week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held its oversight hearing regarding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). New USPTO Director Andrei Iancu testified (see his written statement here), for the first time in his new official capacity. It was an interesting hearing–a video recording of the hearing is available here (starting at minute 16)…. Continue Reading

Registration of a Very Personal Brand Name

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Search Engines, Social Media, Social Networking, Television, Trademarks, USPTO

How much do I believe in federal registration of trademarks and brand names? Well, this much: I’ve always been a big fan of practicing what you preach. Actually walking the talk. Not just talk. That mindset helps explain why we stuck with the suggestive name of this blog, even after the experts recommended against it several times, for SEO and… 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

Patent Appeals to the District Court: Win or Lose, You Pay Attorneys’ Fees?

Posted in Articles, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, USPTO

Recently, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court that primarily hears appeals in patents cases) heard arguments in NantKwest Inc. v. Matal, No. 16-1794 on the issue of attorneys’ fees (a timely topic) in certain patent cases. Credit: PatentlyO Attorneys’ fees are a necessary and inescapable cost of enforcing one’s rights and, as… Continue Reading

What You Need to Un-Suspend a Trademark

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Suspended high above Chelsea Market in New York City are these eye-catching ads for OWYN: That’s a new brand for me, I’m unsure how to pronounce it (Own, Owen or Oh Win), but OWYN apparently stands for Only What You Need — for dietary supplement protein products that “use nutritious, plant-based ingredients and leave out inflammatory animal products and… Continue Reading

USPTO Adds New Tool to Fight Fraud

Posted in Trademarks, USPTO

Yesterday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced a new pilot program to help fight fraudulent trademark applications. Specifically, the new program addresses situations where the applicant provided the USPTO with a fraudulent specimen to demonstrate use of the trademark. Only a narrow subset of fraudulent applications would be vulnerable to a claim under this… 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

Talk to Chuck, Trade Like Chuck, or Chuckit?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Television, Trademarks, Truncation, USPTO

A recent advertisement caught my ear because it involved financial services offered by a guy named Charles Hughes a/k/a Chuck Hughes and the catchy marketing phrase Trade Like Chuck: It instantly reminded me of a piece I wrote in 2010 called: Exposing Two-Face Brands. One of the branding truncation examples I wrote about there noted… 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

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