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Posts Tagged: "trademark litigation"

Five Must-Have Tips for Expediting Trademark Lawsuits in Brazil

Civil processes and procedures in the Brazilian Courts have been increasingly expedited due to the digitalization of case files and the assignment of courts specialized in specific matters (for instance, in corporate and intellectual property law). But the timeframe for judicial disputes involving IP rights in Brazil can be expedited even more for foreign companies by complying with the following procedural requirements.

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.  

Hasbro Loses Fight Over MONOPOLY Mark in Europe

Toy maker Hasbro has been rebuked by the EU General Court, after it was found to have applied to register an EU trademark (EUTM) for MONOPOLY in bad faith. The company has owned the MONOPOLY brand since acquiring Parker Bros in 1991. It filed the EUTM application, for various goods and services in classes 9, 16, 28 and 41, in April 2010 and the mark was registered in 2011. Hasbro owned three earlier EU word marks for MONOPOLY, which were registered in 1998, 2009 and 2010 and are still live. These covered some of the same goods and services as those specified in the 2010 application. After the latest application was registered, it was attacked by a Croatian company called Kreativni Doga?aji, which argued that the application was a “repeat filing” of the earlier marks and “was aimed at circumventing the obligation to prove genuine use of those marks.”

3M Targets N95 Respirator Company’s Alleged Price-Gouging Scheme via Trademark Infringement Suit

On April 10, multinational corporation 3M filed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement claims  against N95 respirator distributor Performance Supply, LLC, in the Southern District of New York. Central to 3M’s suit is the company’s desire to eliminate what it calls a false and deceptive price-gouging scheme being perpetrated by entities operating outside of 3M’s authorized supply chain and taking advantage of increased respirator demand caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

European Union and Russian Approaches to Registering Cannabis Trademarks

Recent case law demonstrates that judicial bodies in the European Union and Russia have taken the stance that cannabis signs and slogans are not acceptable as trademarks as they are contrary to public interest. While the EU Courts are likely to evolve more rapidly on this issue in the near future, for now the position in both the EU and Russia is clear. The interests of the business community must be protected by governments in all countries, and business initiatives should be welcomed. But when weighing the physical and mental health of society on the one hand and business interests on the other, the priority must be the former.

EU Trademark Owners Relieved by CJEU Judgment in SkyKick Case

The Court of Justice of the European Union has provided reassurance to European trademark owners in its judgment today in the SkyKick case. (Case C?371/18 Sky plc, Sky International AG, Sky UK Limited v SkyKick UK Limited, SkyKick Inc.) The case involves questions referred from the UK in a dispute over SkyKick’s alleged infringement of five of Sky’s EU and UK national trademarks. Sky is a well-known broadcaster and telecoms services provider, and SkyKick is a cloud services provider. The Court stated that “a lack of clarity and precision of the terms designating the goods or services covered by a trade mark registration cannot be considered contrary to public policy, within the meaning of those provisions” and that therefore the lack of clarity and precision in a specification is not a ground for invalidity: “a Community trade mark or a national trade mark cannot be declared wholly or partially invalid on the ground that terms used to designate the goods and services in respect of which that trade mark was registered lack clarity and precision.”

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.

Final Briefs Filed with SCOTUS in Romag Fasteners Case on Trademark Infringement Damages

On November 27, briefing concluded at the Supreme Court with the filing of Fossil’s respondent’s brief in Romag Fasteners, Inc., v. Fossil, Inc., et al. The final briefing sets the stage for the Court to hear the case on January 14, 2020. The Court will hopefully resolve a current Circuit split on the availability of disgorgement of profits as damages for trademark infringement. Currently, the First, Second, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits all require willful infringement before allowing disgorgement of an infringer’s profits (the First Circuit requires willfulness if the parties are not direct competitors and there is also some disagreement on where the Eighth Circuit falls on the issue). The Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuits all allow for disgorgement of profits without willful infringement. There has been a Circuit split for some time on this issue and the Supreme Court previously denied certiorari on similar cases but the Court is now set to resolve the split.

Russian Court Rules Keyword Ads Generated by a Web Service Do Not Violate Trademark Rights

Businesses often resort to placing keywords in the html code of a web page, meta tags, or in contextual advertising templates for promoting their products on the internet. And in many cases, rivals successfully recover compensation from competitors who use someone else’s trademark to promote their products. But the use of other people’s trademarks is not always intentional. Recently, a Russian entity proved that there was no infringement of intellectual property rights when a trademark that was similar to another mark had been included in an advertisement by a web service. In this landmark case, the courts of all instances, including the Supreme Court, reaffirmed that key words that are automatically generated in search systems cannot infringe as defined by Russian intellectual property law. The Arbitration Court of the Stavropol region found no violations because the search results were not dependent on the actions of the defendant, were technical, and were not aimed at signifying the goods on the internet.

Other Barks & Bites, Friday, September 27: CAFC Partially Vacates PTAB Decision, Colarulli Appointed to Head LESI, and Copyright Office Seeks Comments on Music Modernization Act

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision reversing the PTAB regarding proper primary reference and CBM review findings; USPTO Director Iancu told IPO Annual Meeting attendees that subject matter eligibility guidelines are working; an EPO-EUIPO report shows IP-intensive industries contribute nearly half of EU GDP; the producers of the Broadway musical Hamilton have filed a motion to dismiss copyright claims filed in connection with a museum exhibit; eBay CEO Devin Wenig stepped down; the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in the en banc rehearing of the “Stairway to Heaven” copyright case; the U.S. Copyright Office is seeking public comments regarding the blanket licensing structure under the Music Modernization Act; and Sandoz has moved forward with a PTAB challenge on patent claims covering AbbVie’s Imbruvica.

Michigan Court Dismisses Trademark Suit Between Ready for the World Band Members

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, on September 9 granted Motions to Dismiss in favor of all defendants in a federal trademark infringement action brought by R&B band Ready for the World, Inc. (Ready for the World) against Melvin Riley, John Eaton, Daniel Dillman, Renee Atkins, and Jan Mark Land. Ready for the World brought us classic 1980s hits including “Oh, Sheila!” and “Love You Down”. Riley and Eaton are original band members, while Dillman works for a nonprofit that promoted a concert performed by Riley and Atkins and Land were alleged to be employed by Riley. In their Motions to Dismiss, Eaton and Riley argued lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Ready for the World did not plead a claim arising under the Lanham Act. Citing Derminer v. Kramer, they argued that they are co-owners of the Ready for the World trademark and thus cannot infringe upon the mark. The court agreed, and also granted the motions of Dillman, Atkins and Land.

Court of Justice of the European Union Provides Guidance on EU Trade Mark Jurisdiction

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that an EU trade mark (EUTM) proprietor may bring an infringement action in an EU Member State where advertising or offers for sale are directed or located, in a case concerning alleged infringement of an EUTM in the United Kingdom by a Spanish defendant. The judgment in Case C172/18 AMS Neve Ltd, Barnett Waddingham Trustees, Mark Crabtree v Heritage Audio SL, Pedro Rodríguez Arribas addresses questions concerning jurisdiction, in particular in cases involving Internet sales. This litigation concerned infringement proceedings brought regarding an EUTM for “1073” in the UK Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court.

Why the Internet Has Become the Smart Way to Do Trademark Surveys

A few years ago, internet surveys in intellectual property (IP) litigation were novelties—but not anymore. In fact, the internet survey has more than come of age, it has become the preferred methodology for many types of IP litigation-related surveys—especially trademark-related matters. The biggest reason for the rise of the internet survey is the demise of the other more established conventional methodologies. At the same time, the internet continues to add new technological features that enhance its ability to reach populations and probe relevant target markets.

Five Practical Settlement Strategies to Get Your Client Out of Dodge

Let’s face it, intellectual property (IP) litigation is a very expensive and risky endeavor. For the accused infringer, the prospect of going to trial means high legal fees and, even worse, a substantial disruption to the business. Even in cases where an accused infringer has viable defenses, leaving a ruling in the hands of the judge or jury is nothing more than a Las Vegas roll-of-the-dice. Whether through informal settlement discussions, mediation, or court-mandated settlement conference, IP defense litigators must arm their clients with a bevy of effective, business-minded settlement strategies. Settling does not have to mean capitulating and paying the other side an arbitrary sum of money to go away. Instead, think of ways to put your client’s available settlement dollars to work. Here are a few practical concepts to set your client on a viable settlement path.

Smells Like Trademark Infringement: Nirvana Sues Over Smiley Face Logo

On December 28, 2018, the limited liability company representing famed Seattle-area grunge rock band Nirvana sued clothing designer Marc Jacobs and fashion retailers Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Central District of California. At the center of the lawsuit are copyright and trademark infringement allegations regarding the use of Nirvana’s “smiley face” logo on a line of designer clothing made by Marc Jacobs. Nirvana alleges that Marc Jacobs has used the band’s common law trademarks and infringed the band’s copyright in the smiley face logo in a misleading way in order to make it appear that Marc Jacobs’ “Bootleg Redux Grunge” clothing line is endorsed by or somehow associated with Nirvana. Nirvana first licensed the use of the smiley face logo, designed by deceased Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain in 1992, and it has been continuously used to identify Nirvana’s music and licensed merchandise since.