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Posts in Trademark

WIPO Report Shows Economic Resilience During Pandemic, Buoyed by Massive Numbers of Chinese Patent, Trademark Filings

On November 8, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released its World Intellectual Property Indicators 2021 report, the latest WIPO annual report to detail global IP filings across patents, trademarks and other forms of IP. As the key findings from the World IP Indicators report show, intellectual property filing activities, especially those related to trademarks, grew during 2020, showcasing a resilient global economy during the COVID-19 pandemic relative to other economic downturns in recent world history. Much of that activity is driven by domestic IP filings within China, which continues to dominate the world in sheer filing numbers across most forms of intellectual property.

Brazil Has Begun Accepting Applications for Position Trademarks

The Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) began accepting applications for position trademarks on October 1, 2021. Position marks are trademarks characterized by the particular spot in which they are placed on a product. While position marks were previously acknowledged by the BPTO and by the courts, they had yet to qualify for separate trademark registration; most brand owners registered them as figurative or three-dimensional marks. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: E-Commerce Platforms Have Curbed Infringement, But Counterfeits and Safety Problems Persist

The full Senate Judiciary Committee convened today for a hearing titled, “Cleaning Up Online Marketplaces: Protecting Against Stolen, Counterfeit, and Unsafe Goods,” in which witnesses explained the continuing challenges of policing stolen and counterfeit products in online marketplaces. The panelists included small business owners, internet platform advocates, academics and retail store representatives.

Pro-Apple TTAB Bias Case Heats Up at CAFC

Following a motion filed in mid-October with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) accusing the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and its management of facilitating the appearance of bias at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) in favor of Apple, Inc., Apple has now filed its opposition to that motion. Apple contends there is no precedent for allowing the motion, as it requests to supplement the record with documents that were not part of the trial record; that the TTAB is “an executive adjudicatory body” within the USPTO, which is “an executive agency within the Department of Commerce, and the TTAB’s administrative law judges are not subject to the recusal requirements set out in 28 U.S.C. § 455”; and that the documents Charles Bertini is asking to submit “reflect merely routine and fleeting professional contacts” that “fall far below the threshold of the personal contacts necessary to support disqualification on the basis of bias or prejudice.”

CAFC Addresses Standing Requirement in Brooklyn Brew Shop Trademark Dispute

On October 27, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) cancellation of Brooklyn Brew Shop, LLC’s (BBS) standard character mark and dismissed in part, affirmed in part and remanded the TTAB’s decision regarding the opposition of BBS’s mark. For over 30 years, The Brooklyn Brewery Corporation (Brewery) has used the marks BROOKLYN and BROOKLYN BREWERY in connection with the advertising, promotion, and sale of Brewery’s beer and beer-related merchandise. In 2006, Brewery registered BROOKLYN BREWERY as a federal trademark for beer in class 32.

EUIPO Report Reveals More Than 90% of Online Counterfeit Sales are Sent to EU Through Postal Services

On October 25, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) issued a study exploring the growing misuse of e-commerce channels for trade in counterfeits. The report provides a quantitative review of both the expansion of Internet commerce as well as a growing number of counterfeit seizures by border officials in recent years. The EUIPO’s report also profiles common aspects of counterfeit supply chains, as well as regulatory frameworks established to reduce the spread of counterfeits online.

Models’ Lawsuits Against Nightclubs Highlight SCOTUS Petition Challenging Elevation of ‘Public Prominence’ Factor in Lanham Act Cases

In mid-October, a pair of lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Virginia by different groups of professional models seeking damages and injunctive relief under the Lanham Act from adult entertainment clubs for the unauthorized use of the models’ images in promotional materials. The filings come at about the same time that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a petition for writ of certiorari from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which asks the nation’s highest court whether the Second Circuit was wrong to create a public prominence requirement that prevents lesser known models from being able to assert their rights to their own likeness.

USPTO Judges, Management, Accused of Bias—This Time at the TTAB

A motion filed on Friday, October 15, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) requests that the appellant, Charles Bertini, be allowed to present evidence not of record in order to demonstrate that bias at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) may have had a negative impact on his case. Bertini owns the mark APPLE JAZZ, which was registered in New York state in 1991 for entertainment services. He began using the mark well before that, in 1985. Unaware that he did not have a federal registration, Bertini filed an opposition against Apple, Inc.’s federal registration for “Apple Music” in 2016, along with an application to register APPLE JAZZ with the USPTO.

India’s Prius Judgment and Trans-Border Reputation of Trademarks

A trademark is accorded reputation through its prolonged use and the goodwill it holds in the market where it operates. A trademark is believed to have a reputation when the general public recognizes the product by its mark. The reputation of a well-known trademark knows no bounds, and therefore foreign trademarks with a reputation are accorded protection in India. This concept of trans-border reputation protection follows the principle of universality, which states that once the reputation of a trademark transcends the physical boundaries of the country in which it was registered and gains popularity in other countries as well, it is to be protected in all relevant jurisdictions. Thus, the trademark owner is entitled to protection under the doctrine of passing-off if it can prove that the reputation of its trademark transcended geographical borders by way of promotions, advertisements and media communications. 

New Survey Methods Address Consumer Uncertainty in Trademark Law

Decades of trademark litigation cases have relied on survey evidence that aims to assess what consumers in the marketplace subjectively believe to be true. These methods are intended to answer important trademark questions, including whether consumers believe a mark to be a common term or a brand name and whether consumers mistakenly believe a product bearing a defendant’s mark originates from the plaintiff. While survey and marketing experts often rely on versions of commonly used trademark surveys (e.g., Teflon, Thermos, Eveready and Squirt formats), these formats in their conventional design may, in some situations, mask critical information about consumers’ beliefs or attitudes that could change the research conclusions — the strength or certainty of those beliefs or attitudes.  

Employing a Trademark Test to Determine When a Patent is ‘Directed To’ a Section 101 Judicial Exception

Under U.S. trademark law and court precedent, determining whether there is a likelihood of confusion involves weighing a number of factors (13 factors to be exact), known as the “Dupont factors,” set out in In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 476 F.2d 1357, 177 USPQ 563 (CCPA 1973). The CCPA (Court of Customs and Patent Appeals) is a predecessor court to the Federal Circuit. As noted by the Federal Circuit, not all the DuPont factors may be relevant or of equal weight in a given case and any one of the factors may control a particular case. Under 35 U.S.C. §101, patent-eligible inventions include any process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter and any new and useful improvement thereof. There are, in addition, three judicially created exceptions to the broad recitation of Section 101: laws of nature; natural phenomena; and abstract ideas…. If the goal of Section 101 is to act as a gatekeeper, rather than a roadblock, the factors approach seems appropriate to employ in a patentability analysis.

The CHAMPANILLO Case Suggests We Need a New Way to Assess the Unique Distinctiveness of Collective PDO/PGI Marks

Under European Union (EU) law—specifically, Article 103(2) of Regulation 1308/2013—signs that qualify as protected designations of origin (PDOs) or protected geographical indications (PGIs) are shielded against any direct or indirect commercial use, as well as against any “evocation” of it that is likely to mislead a consumer as to the true origin of the product. This language raises the question of the conditions under which a sign may be said to be “evocative” of a PDO or PGI.

Third Circuit: Facebook Not Immune to Right of Publicity Claims Under IP Carve-Out of Section 230

On September 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed in part a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ultimately holding that Karen Hepp’s complaint against Facebook was not barred by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.In 2018, Hepp was informed by a coworker that a photo of her was being used online. The photo of Hepp was taken without her knowledge or consent and she never authorized the use of the image in any advertisements.

Hepp’s complaint cited two sets of posts online of the photo, which Hepp alleged under Pennsylvania law violated her right to publicity. The first post appeared on Facebook as an advertisement to a dating app. The advertisement encouraged Facebook users to use the app and used the image of Hepp to promote the dating service. The second post appeared on Reddit, where a user linked to a post on Imgur. The Reddit post was upvoted hundreds of times and incited indecent user commentary regarding the photo of Hepp.

Third Circuit Joins Sister Courts in Ruling TTAB Decisions May Not Have Preclusive Effect

On September 17, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential decision that affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded a decision by the District Court for the District of New Jersey, holding that trademark cancellation proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) do not preclude infringement claims in federal district court. In 1969, David Beasley formed a band named “The Ebonys” in Camden, New Jersey. The Ebonys were one of many bands that helped create the “Philadelphia Sound” which incorporated elements of soul, funk, and disco. The Ebonys achieved some commercial success in the 1970s but failed to reach the notoriety of other groups. As the decades wore on, the Ebonys’ popularity faded, though Beasley alleges they performed continuously since their formation. In the mid-1990s William Howard joined the band, and in 1997, Beasley obtained a New Jersey state service mark for THE EBONYS. Relations between Howard and Beasley soured and the pair parted ways. Each artist believed themselves the owner of the Ebonys name, and in 2012, Howard obtained Registration No. 4,170,469 (the ‘469 mark) for THE EBONYS, as a federal trademark. 

IPWatchdog LIVE Panelists Weigh-In on Best Practices for a Global Trademark Presence

On the Monday of IPWatchdog LIVE, a panel of trademark experts discussed “International Trademark Rights: Best Practices for a Trademark Global Presence,” moderated by vice president of law firm strategy for Anaqua, Jayne Durden. The speakers included Mark Leonard, general counsel for the Jelly Belly Candy Company, and Heather Antoine, partner at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and chair of the California Lawyers Association IP Section. Kicking off the discussion, Jayne Durden informed the audience that the value of brands has massively skyrocketed in recent years. For instance, the top ten brands over the last ten years, most of which include tech brands such as Apple, have grown on average four times in value, thus leading to a greater need for trademark protection. In the last quarter alone, said Durden, the filing of trademark applications has increased a whopping 49%.