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Posts in Trademark Basics

Selecting the Right Trademark for Your Business

From a legal standpoint, a trademark that has no relation to the product or services offered will be the strongest type of mark. For example, trademarks such as “Google” for a search engine, “eBay” for online auctions and “Bose” for audio equipment make excellent and strong trademarks. Descriptive marks provide less trademark protection because if a term is descriptive it can be used by anyone else selling the same goods or providing the same services… Many sales and marketing people will gravitate toward descriptive marks for products and services hoping that potential customers will immediately identify the product or service being offered. This approach leads to a weak or sometimes even unprotectable trademarks.

The Trademark Management Process: Getting it Right in Challenging Times

The trademark landscape is evolving rapidly, with both brand owners and trademark professionals trying to keep up. The changes are mostly driven by the steep rise in trademark applications — there was a 13.7% increase in trademark filing activity in 2015, according to WIPO — and shrinking budgets as all involved are tasked with doing more with the same or fewer resources. Trademark professionals and brands alike need to be consistent in the way they approach search and make use of the same practices they have used in the past to avoid risk, while considering challenges they face and the way that the trademark landscape is evolving.

A TWIST in the tale: Not your typical cola war

This case was not your typical “cola war”, but rather involved TWIST, the well-known carbonated beverage brand which has been available in South Africa since the 1970s (originally as LEMON TWIST). Atlantic is the proprietor in South Africa of the TWIST, LEMON TWIST and DIET TWIST trade marks in relation to non-alcoholic drinks falling in class 32. PepsiCo applied to register the trade marks PEPSI TWIST and a PEPSI TWIST label, also in relation to non-alcoholic beverages in class 32… In finding in favor of Atlantic in the opposition, the Court felt it necessary to only rule on the issue of confusing similarity, ie. whether the proposed PEPSI TWIST trade marks were sufficiently similar to Atlantic’s trade marks to create a likelihood of deception or confusion.

Trademark a Band Name: What’s in a Rock Band’s Name?

While it is possible to copyright the design of a band logo, the band name itself is not copyrightable (see here and here). Band names are protectable under trademark law, because like brand names they allow us to distinguish one band’s music and identity from another. They are what enable us to distinguish between a “Beatles” record on the one hand, and a “Chipmunks” record on the other… The more unique the name, the greater the degree of trademark protection, but also the more the name will stand out and set the band apart from others, which is generally the goal.

Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau registers trademark for nickname “Johnny Hockey”

One of the more exciting young talents currently playing in the National Hockey League is Johnny Gaudreau, a forward for the NHL’s Calgary Flames who is also known by the nickname “Johnny Hockey.”… U.S. Trademark Registration No. 4992448 protects the use of the standard character mark “JOHNNY HOCKEY” on goods in trademark class 25, which includes marks registered for clothing, footwear and headgear. Specifically, the mark has been registered for use on clothing goods such as shirts, sweatshirts and coats as well as footwear goods like shoes and boots.

Trademark owners are often targeted by fraudulent, deceptive registry services

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s official website warns trademark owners about private companies who conduct trademark scams. These schemes involve companies, many of which use names intended to confuse people into an association with the USPTO, who make offers for legal services, trademark monitoring services, recording trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection or registering the trademarks in a private registry. On its warning page, the USPTO maintains a list of a couple dozen such companies whose scamming activities are known.

Trademarks: A basic primer on trademarks and trademark law

Trademarks differ from copyrights, which protect original artistic or literary works, and patents, which protect inventions. A trademark primarily protects names, logos or symbols that identify a particular creator of goods or provider of services. More specifically, a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. In most instances the term “trademark” is simply used to refer to what the law calls either a trademark or a service mark, so do not be surprised if you see a service mark (an example would be Roto Rooter) simply referred to as a trademark by judges, lawyers and business people.

Boston-based Tasty Burger alleges trademark infringement by Tasty Made, Chipotle’s burger chain

hipotle Mexican Grill is gearing up to launch a new franchise brand of restaurants. The first Tasty Made will open this fall in Lancaster, OH, and locations will feature menus focusing on burgers, hand-cut fries and milkshakes. As Tasty Made has been making headlines, a Boston-based chain of burger fast food restaurants has raised a legal issue over trademarks, which it believes Chipotle is infringing. Reports indicate that Tasty Burger has issued a cease and desist letter to Chipotle which charges the latter company with using a brand name and logos that are similar to marks held by Tasty Burger. Tasty Burger operates six locations, including four Boston stores and two in Washington, D.C. The burger chain is alleging that not only are the names very similar but the color scheme and shape of the logos share many similarities as well.

#UNDECIDED: Trademark Protection for Hashtags

Can a hashtag be a protectable trademark? And when does use of another’s trademark in hashtags constitute infringement? Disagreement has arisen among the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), the courts, and commentators about whether hashtags can be protected at all. A trademark, of course, is a source-identifier – a “word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof” used “to identify and distinguish … goods, including a unique product, from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods.” 15 U.S.C. § 1127(a).

Re-Classification According to New EU Trade Mark Regulation

The new European Community Trade Mark Regulation, as approved by Regulation (EU) 2015/2424 of the European Parliament, entered into force on March 23, 2016. Among other amendments, the provisions of Article 28(8) of the new Regulation substantially change the approach to interpretation of ICGS class headings included in the list of goods/services covered by EU trademarks applied for before June 2012. Previously, before June 22, 2012, a trade mark was deemed to be protected in respect of the entire range of ICGS goods and services included in the alphabetical list for that class provided that such trade mark was registered with reference to the heading of the respective ICGS class.

Overcoming obstacles when enforcing your descriptive brand in the UK and rest of Europe

We’ve all been there. The Marketing team comes up with a shortlist of branding ideas for the latest product or service – and at the top of the list is a brand which is descriptive. As trade mark lawyers, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs properly if we didn’t explain that the descriptive brand will be more difficult to register as a trade mark than a made-up, distinctive name (in the UK anyway). Plus, it’ll be harder to enforce. However, the appeal of a descriptive brand (simple and clear) can’t be denied, especially with internet searching and online sales now so important. In this post, we’ll take a look at a few obstacles to enforcing a descriptive brand in the UK and Europe, and how to overcome them.

Sky is still blue for Skype trademark in Europe

In the decision dated 5th May, 2015, the General Court of the European Union concluded, upon examining the opposition by British SKY Broadcasting Group Plc (now SKY International) against Skype Ultd, that there is an existence of likelihood of confusion between the prior registered mark, “SKY” and the applied mark, “SKYPE” preventing the registration of the sign, SKYPE, in the European community.

Bad News for the Redskins Trademark – Registration Exempt from First Amendment Scrutiny

Last Wednesday the Eastern District of Virginia issued its opinion and order on cross-motions for summary judgment in Pro-Football v. Blackhorse, the case in which the National Football League (NFL) appealed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) precedential cancellation of the REDSKINS trademark on Lanham Act 2(a) disparagement grounds. The long and short of it is, it didn’t turn out well for the Redskins, who will almost certainly appeal the decision, which affirmed the TTAB’s 2014 cancellation.

Business Owners Need Federal Trademark Rights

But deciding to apply for a federal trademark registration isn’t the end-all-be-all. Frequently a name or mark is selected for a business without a trademark search ever being done. That can be extremely costly if it is later learned that some other individual or company has been already been operating under that name or mark. Even in the situation where no trademark infringement liability attaches, the second comer will need to stop using, give up on any good will already developed and move on. This can be quite costly, just in terms of recalling and revising advertising campaigns, letterhead, business cards and the like. The best advice is, therefore, to always do a trademark search and file for a United States Trademark.

Selecting the Right Trademark for Your Business

You have probably had circumstances when you have positively associated with a certain trademark. Perhaps you were traveling and had the option to eat at one of several restaurants… A trademark is a significant asset. A trademark not only becomes your company seal, but it is how consumers will relate to your goods or services. If you have high quality goods and services for a reasonable price then customers will associate your company with positive feelings and memories, so the next time they see your trademark they will conjure up in their minds a whole host of positives. This conjuring up of positive feelings, emotions and memories of satisfaction can be powerful.