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Category Archives: USPTO

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Update: “Square Donuts” Dispute Headed to Settlement

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Earlier this year I posted about a trademark dispute regarding the use of the term “Square Donuts” for square-shaped donuts. The case involved proceedings both in federal court and at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), between the Square Donuts cafe in Indiana (which claimed decades of prior use and a trademark registration); and the… Continue Reading

Will “Return Mail” Create an Escape from the Supreme Court’s Holding in “SAS”?

Posted in Articles, Infringement, Law Suits, Patents, Squirrelly Thoughts, USPTO

Readers of this blog may recall that in the past year, I wrote extensively about the U.S. Supreme Court case of Oil States v. Greene’s Energy. But I paid little attention to another important case decided around the same time: SAS Institute v. Iancu. Oil States centered on whether the USPTO’s inter partes review (“IPR”) process (challenging a patent at the USPTO,… Continue Reading

Watch Out: Unauthorized Changes in USPTO and Amazon Brand Records

Posted in Almost Advice, Technology, USPTO

Trademark owners should beware of a scam involving the Amazon Brand Registry. There have been several reports of rogue users exploiting the Amazon Brand Registry through the unauthorized modification of trademark registration records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These scammers are submitting fraudulent requests to change the email addresses for trademark registrants,… Continue Reading

Illegal Brand Clone, or Evolved Inspiration?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Infringement, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

A loyal reader brought to our attention the logo for a rather interesting chiropractic practice: Without too much pain, can we all agree on the likely inspiration for the above name and logo? What’s really interesting is that the name Thorassic Park has been federally-registered since 2004, so there is little doubt that the names… Continue Reading

Kevin O’Leary Not Nuts About Mr Wonderful

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Television, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve been stalking Kevin O’Leary’s nutty Mr. Wonderful trademark application, for a while now. In April, we thought the USPTO would refuse registration of Mr. Wonderful for nuts, based on this: In June, we were shocked to see the USPTO missed issuing the obvious refusal, and in August, we noted and reported that The Wonderful… Continue Reading

Leaving Zero to the Imagination in Branding

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

We’ve been down this road before, some themes intersect, and trademark value is filtered out: The intersecting themes on tap for the day are: Zero, Branding, Trademarks, and Loss of Rights. ZEROWATER is a perfectly suggestive, inherently distinctive, and federally-registered trademark with “incontestable” status as a source-identifier for “water filtering units for household use.” Judging from the specimens… Continue Reading

Verbing a Wine Brand Won’t Make You a Star

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

Welcome to another edition of trademark stories that are inspired by billboard advertisements: This one was captured for obvious reasons, if you’re familiar with our interest in brandverbing: Just Verb It? A Legal Perspective on Using Brands As Verbs: Part I Just Verb It? Part II: A Legal Perspective on Using Brands as Verbs Just Verb It? Part… Continue Reading

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

When Are You in a Lather About Trademarks?

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

As you know, I enjoy telling trademark stories about soaps encountered on my various trips: Lather® (brand) soap recently caught my eye — and the lens of my iPhone — while in Palo Alto. Interestingly, the USPTO has treated the word as inherently distinctive, in Lather’s registrations. In other words, not merely descriptive, even though using the product surely produces some…. Continue Reading

Creative Brand Protection II — A Picture Book

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

Another Creative Brand Protection event is in the books, thanks to our incredible panel of experts: Karen Brennan, Senior Director, Intellectual Property, Best Buy Anne Hall, Technology Strategy Manager-Life Sciences, University of Minnesota Aaron Keller, Co-Author: The Physics of Brand; Co-Founder Capsule Design Tim Sitzmann, Trademark and Brand Protection Attorney, Winthrop & Weinstine Their insights… Continue Reading

The Potential Folly of Pursuing Only a Hashtag Mark

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Credit: Local Solutions I write today regarding a squirrelly thought: are the benefits of registering a hashtag trademark almost always outweighed by the consequences? In light of a recent Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) ruling and the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure’s (“TMEP”) provisions, hashtag marks offer much less protection than traditional character-based marks,… Continue Reading

Amazon’s Worker Cages and Some Reminders on the Publicity and Value of Patents

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Social Media, Technology, USPTO

Amazon’s patent (U.S. Patent No. 9,280,157) for a “System and Method for Transporting Personnel Within an Active Workspace” has been in the news recently. The invention is described as a device for keeping human workers safe in an automated (i.e., robotic) work environment.  In the Background, the patent discusses the rapid rise of automation in… Continue Reading

Scandalous/Shocking Trademark Applications

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

Erik Brunetti is not one step closer to being able to federally-register his vulgar and scandalous FUCT trademark for clothing; his portfolio of applications remain log jammed (here and here): So, scandalous trademark applications are still on hold at the U.S. Trademark Office, since the government is now asking for the Supreme Court to reverse… Continue Reading

Budweiser and Jim Beam on the Same Team

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

In April, news broke that two iconic alcohol brands were joining forces to create a remarkable new beer: Jim Beam Budweiser Copper Lager. Fruit of the joint labor is now available for consumption: The unique combination doesn’t appear destined to fall flat, as in the early days since launch, it seems to be attracting even… Continue Reading

‘O’ Stands for Oklahoma, Ohio, Oprah…

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Sight, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, USPTO

As Steve blogged earlier this week, we’ve had a lot of “zero” on the mind lately—marks related to the word and numeral. It got me thinking about the letter ‘O,’ especially since it has been in recent trademark news. If you missed it, The Ohio State University and Oklahoma State University are now dueling it… Continue Reading

A Zero Sum Game in the Trademark World?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Product Packaging, SoapBox, USPTO

We’ve had a lot of nothing — meaning zero, and the trademark meaning, if any, of zero — on our mind lately, so imagine my surprise to see this soap “brand” for the first time last week in a hotel: Not sure how to pronounce it, but as we know, there really is no “correct”… Continue Reading

How to Master the Patentese of Trademarks

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

Since launching almost ten years ago, we’ve focused on helping and guiding marketing/branding professionals, as we seek to facilitate their graceful collaborations with trademark professionals. Our approach has strived to deliver valuable information, without the typical jargon and legalese. It seriously borders the obvious to say that folks who connect with us here know the… Continue Reading

LOL? Why Is P&G Seeking Registration of Three-Letter Acronyms for Soap?

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

Procter & Gamble (P&G) has filed federal trademark applications to register several well-known (at least among millennials) acronyms used in text messages, including LOL (laughing out load); NBD (no big deal); WTF (what the f***); and FML (f*** my life). The applications identify cleaning products, including liquid soap, dish detergents, surface cleaners, and air fresheners. P&G’s products… Continue Reading

Coke Opening ZERO Genericness Floodgates?

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

We’ve been writing about the COKE ZERO trademark for nearly a decade now, noting in 2014: “[I]t will be worth watching to see whether the [TTAB] finds that ‘ZERO’ primarily means Coke or just a soft drink having ‘no calories, you know, a drink about nothing . . . .’” Turns out, in May 2016, Coke obtained a favorable… Continue Reading

Battle Over Trademark in NOLA

Posted in Articles, Civil Procedure, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

The trademark ST. ROCH MARKET is at the heart of a dispute in New Orleans (aka NOLA).  The City of New Orleans is battling in court with the current lessee of the building associated with the trademark. ROCH MARKET has been associated with a popular market in New Orleans since 1875. Prior to Hurricane Katrina,… Continue Reading

Cat Calling Attention to Women’s Footwear?

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

When ideas from different realms converge in a single moment of time, a new blog post is born. “Catcalling” — albeit a rebranded, reimagined, or redefined version of it — recently has been front and center in a political Twitter storm and remains a lightning rod in the non-stop news cycle. So, imagine my surprise also to see the sturdy Cat… Continue Reading

Will Mr. Wonderful Become a TM Nutcracker?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks, USPTO

Two months ago, our attention seized on a nutty and woefully deficient USPTO examination of a trademark application to register — Mr. Wonderful — for roasted nuts, and nut-based snack foods, among other food products, given the prior WONDERFUL trademark rights owned by these folks: Just like clockwork, events now appear to be playing out as expected,… 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