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Christopher Ford Image

Christopher Ford

is an associate in the Litigation Department at Debevoise and a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation group and Cybersecurity & Data Privacy practice.

For more information or to contact Chris, please visit his Firm Profile Page.

Recent Articles by Christopher Ford

In re Forney Could Herald a Brighter Future for Color Marks

Trademarks consisting solely of a color applied to products or their packaging have been protectable under U.S. law for decades—if they meet a heightened standard for protection. Since the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Brothers, Inc., an applicant for a color mark has been required to prove that the color actually serves as an indicator of source in the minds of consumers by showing that the mark has acquired distinctiveness (otherwise known as secondary meaning). Yet that longstanding requirement no longer applies to all color marks, after a new decision by the Federal Circuit in In re Forney, which opens the door for the first time to certain color marks gaining protection as inherently distinctive.

Navigating Court and USPTO Practices During the COVID-19 Crisis: Tips for Practitioners and Litigants

In the past week, the COVID-19 pandemic has led courts across the country to close buildings, postpone hearings, adjust filing rules, and revamp their typical approach to pending cases. These changes have created new uncertainties for litigants and their counsel in cases requiring emergency relief, but our initial survey of public statements and emerging practices from leading courts around the country provide some reassurance that courts are mostly continuing to function normally, with changes to filing procedures and arguments being heard by phone.

New USPTO Trademark Rules Seek to Streamline Filing and Crack Down on Fraud, But Could Increase Spam

New rules governing all trademark filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) went into effect two days ago, on February 15. Although the headline is a move to mandatory electronic filing for virtually all trademark applications, some of the rules have caused significant controversy within the trademark bar, especially a requirement that applicants provide a contact email address for the applicant, not just their counsel. The USPTO’s shift to mandatory electronic filing is relatively uncontroversial, since more than 99% of applications under Section 1 or Section 44 of the Trademark Act are already filed electronically. There are certain exceptions under the rule for foreign applicants under international agreements, and for non-traditional scent and flavor marks, where a physical specimen will still need to be mailed to the USPTO. But for all other applicants, electronic filing will now be mandatory unless the USPTO’s filing system – the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) – goes down.