Posts Tagged: "consumer confusion"

Tenth Circuit Partially Affirms Decision Enforcing Lanham Act on Foreign Defendants Based on Extraterritorial Conduct

On August 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded a decision of the district court for the Western District of Oklahoma, holding that the Lanham Act applied to the defendants’ extraterritorial conduct…. The Tenth Circuit rejected Defendants’ first argument that the Lanham act cannot be applied extraterritorially. Citing Steele, the Tenth Circuit acknowledged that there is a general presumption against extraterritoriality, but that it may be applied abroad at least in some circumstances. Steele v. Bulova Watch Co., 344 U.S. 280, 282-285 (1952). In Steele, the Court reasoned that “the United States is not debarred . . . from governing the conduct of i[t]s own citizens upon the high seas or even in foreign countries when the rights of other nations or nationals are not infringed.” Id. at 285-86. Key to the Court’s decision was that the defendant’s “operations and effects were not confined within the territorial limits of a foreign nation,” but rather filtered through to the United States.

Second Circuit Vacates Trademark Infringement Holding Against Costco For Use of the Term ‘Tiffany’

On August 17, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated and remanded a decision of the district court in Tiffany & Co. v. Costco Wholesale Corp. In particular, the Circuit Court held that the district court’s determination that Costco was liable for trademark infringement and counterfeiting was inappropriate at the summary judgment stage. In November 2012, a customer alerted Tiffany that Costco was selling diamond engagement rings that she believed were being advertised as Tiffany & Co. rings. Costco admitted to selling rings with identifying signs using the phrases “Tiffany setting,” “Tiffany set,” or “Tiffany style,” and in some instances using only the word “Tiffany” for identifying the setting style of the ring. The rings identified by the customer were accompanied by signs reading “Platinum Tiffany.”

Second Circuit Ruling on “Velocity” Trademark Clarifies Standards For Awards in Lanham Act Cases

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision in an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last Thursday that in part clarified that “a plaintiff prosecuting a trademark infringement claim need not in every case demonstrate actual consumer confusion to be entitled to an award of an infringer’s profits.” The Second Circuit court also remanded the case back to the District Court to apply the Octane Fitness standard for determining “exceptional” cases under the Lanham Act.

Williams-Sonoma Lawsuit Accuses Amazon of Offering Infringing Products for Sale Online

On Friday, December 14th, San Francisco, CA-based home furnishing retailer Williams-Sonoma filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California alleging claims of trademark and design patent infringement against Seattle, WA-based e-commerce giant Amazon.com. The lawsuit targets Amazon’s pattern of trading upon Williams-Sonoma’s goodwill and infringing the company’s intellectual property including the use of the registered mark “WILLIAMS-SONOMA.” If the allegations are true, this is simply the latest instance of this e-commerce behemoth choosing to flout IP law in an effort to line the pockets of itself and its incredibly affluent CEO Jeff Bezos.

‘Cockygate’ Trademark Row Causes Heartbreak in U.S. Indie Romance Novel Publishing Industry

In recent weeks, the U.S. romance publishing industry has been roiling over a trademark issue which has been less-than-affectionately referred to as Cockygate. According to various news reports, romance writer Faleena Hopkins has been asserting a trademark she registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to prevent the use of the word “Cocky” in the titles of adult romance novels which have been published by other writers. This trademark policing campaign has sparked public outcry and has prompted action from industry organizations like the Romance Writers of America (RWA), which has consulted with an intellectual property lawyer to seek advice regarding the issue.

23AndMe Sues Ancestry.com Over DNA Genetic Testing Kits

On Friday, May 11th, Mountain View, CA-based personal genetics testing company 23AndMe filed a lawsuit alleging patent infringement claims against Lehi, UT-based genealogy firm Ancestry.com. The suit, filed in the Northern District of California, targets Ancestry’s use of a DNA testing kit, which allegedly infringes upon a genetic testing patent held by 23AndMe.

Colgate-Palmolive Files Trademark Suit Over Use of ‘360’ Branding on Toothbrushes, Oral Care Products

Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) filed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement in the Southern District of New York against Grand Rapids, MI-based oral healthcare company Ranir LLC. At issue in the case are toothbrushes being sold by Ranir which allegedly infringe upon the “360°” trademark, which is owned by Colgate… Since releasing the 360° branded line of toothbrushes and oral care products, Colgate has pursued federal trademark registrations to cover the use of the brand in commerce.

DAIRY PRIDE Act would clear up consumer milk confusion between dairy products and plant-based beverages

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are currently contemplating versions of the Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk and Cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday (DAIRY PRIDE) Act; the House version is bill H.R.778 and the Senate’s is S.130. If passed, the bill would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the sale of any food using the market name of a dairy product, is not the milk of a hooved animal, is not derived from such milk and doesn’t contain such milk as a primary ingredient. The findings section of the bill notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has regulations finding that milk is “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” The Senate bill is originally sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) while the House version is sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT). The House bill includes five original co-sponsors: Rep. Michael Simpson (R-ID); Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI); Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT); Rep. David Valadao (R-CA); and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA).

Do Online Retailers’ Search Results Constitute Trademark Infringement?

Since the inception of the search engine, trademark owners, advertisers, search engine providers, and the courts have struggled with the issue of the use of third-party trademarks in keyword advertising and search returns, and whether such trademark use is likely to confuse consumers when they are searching for information regarding a particular brand. Despite an array of holdings on this issue over the years, following the 2011 decision in Network Automation, Inc. v. Advanced System Concepts, Inc., the Ninth Circuit and other courts have generally held that the potential for “mere diversion” of a consumer caused by the use of a third party’s trademark in connection with sponsored keywords or search results does not constitute trademark infringement unless a trademark owner can demonstrate that particular search returns or sponsored keyword advertisements are likely to cause confusion based on the specific use or presentation of a trademark in a search return.

FTC Endorsement Guides Impact Bloggers and Twitterers

I just gained another new follower on Twitter (IP_Privacy), and when I went to my Twitter account to follow in return I noticed they had tweeted an article from the Washington Post regarding the FTC setting endorsement rules for bloggers.  It seems that the Federal Trade Commission has decided to update the guidelines relating to the use of endorsements and…