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Posts Tagged: "trademark bullying"

Apple v. Prepear: Does Apple Really Need All the Fruit?

How many types of fruit does one mega-company need to protect its trademarks? Apparently, Apple Inc. believes an image of a pear used in connection with a meal preparation app is too close for comfort and that it is entitled to prevent its use. Bananas, you say? Possibly, but it’s also not uncommon for companies that have invested millions in establishing, promoting and protecting a trademark to take no prisoners in the battle for brand supremacy.

What Brand Owners and Small Businesses Can Learn from Backcountry.com’s Trademark Enforcement Campaign

U.S.-based online outdoor goods retailer, Backcountry.com, has faced a significant social media backlash over the past month, with both customers and competitors publicly reacting to its aggressive trademark enforcement campaign. It all started when news broke that the brand had taken action against a huge number of smaller companies that happened to use the term “backcountry” in their names. Public documents revealed that Backcountry.com had been attempting to cancel trademarks against businesses using the term, filing lawsuits against a multitude of smaller companies over the past two years. The impact was far ranging, with disputed trademarks, product and business names including American Backcountry, Backcountry Babes, Marquette Backcountry Skis, Backcountry Denim Co., Backcountry Nitro, Cripple Creek Backcountry and many more.

eBay removes spin bike listings because ‘spin’ is apparently trademarked

VeRO is ebay’s Verified Rights Owner program. VeRO allows a right’s owner (someone who has a verified trademark, copyright, etc.) to request removal of an item. A company by the name of Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. (MDA) is a member of the eBay VeRO Program and uses this program to enforce the nearly one hundred trademarks it owns, which include: spin, spinning, spinner, spin yoga, spinfitness, and spin daddy. With that said, only MDA’s Spin® bike can be called that, and so my client’s “spin bike” listing was removed due to use of the word spin.

Trademark Bullying: Defending Your Brand or Vexatious Business Tactics?

The USPTO defined the term Trademark Bullying as the vexatious practice of a trademark owner that uses its trademark rights to harass and intimidate another business beyond what the law might be reasonably interpreted to allow. Mirroring the modus operandi exhibited by patent assertion entities and copyright bullies, several creative mark owners have adopted and modified this sue-to-settle paradigm and applied it in the trademark context. In short, trademark trolls—businesses both large and small—aggressively assert rights beyond the scope of trademark protection afforded by the Lanham Act through the issuance of threatening cease-and-desist letters.

Under Armour Sues Body Armor for Trademark Infringement

Still, it seems a little reckless to me to select a trademark that incorporates “ARMOR” or “ARMOUR” when entering an industry that has a heavyweight such as Under Armour with a large trademark portfolio and the means to enforce that portfolio. Is the name BODYARMOR so critical to the success of the company and selling their drinks? I doubt it. So then why run the risk of incurring the wrath of a well funded and well known trademark owner? It just doesn’t make business sense if you ask me. That is why I always advise companies to consider doing a rather exhaustive trademark search and obtaining an opinion from an attorney prior to spending money on adverting and marketing campaigns.