Posts in Trademarks and Brand Protection.

Trademarks function to identify the source or origin of products or services and distinguish them from the products or services of others. On the other hand, generic terms are used by consumers to refer to a type of product or service that cannot function or be registered as a trademark. For example, one cannot register COMPUTER as a trademark for laptops and personal computers. Likewise, one cannot register “APPLE” to identify a fruit (as opposed to “APPLE” to identify computer technology).

However, what if a generic term is combined with “.com” or another top-level ... Read More ›

On Thursday, April 23, 2020, in the case Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group, Inc., the Supreme Court held that the statutory provision governing remedies for violations in the Trademark Act, §1117(a), does not require a showing of willfulness in order for a plaintiff to recover profits in an infringement action arising under Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). This decision could tip the scales in favor of trademark owners.

The case involved a fastener manufacturer, Romag, that originally contracted with Fossil, to allow Fossil to use Romag’s magnetic snap fasteners for ... Read More ›

Businesses rely upon color for a variety of purposes. For example, colors may provide ornamentation, or may serve to allow a product to blend in with its surroundings (camouflage for hunting gear) or indicate a product’s flavor (yellow for lemon). Importantly, colors can serve as trademarks, but only if they function as a source identifier.

While colors are not included within the statutory definition of trademarks, since 1985, singular colors and color combinations can be trademarked as part of a product, package or service, if, like any other trademark, they serve a source ... Read More ›

The popularity of craft breweries and distilleries has grown at exponential rates in the past few years.  There are now over 1,800 craft distilleries in the U.S. up from roughly 100 in 2005 and 7,400 craft distillers up from approximately 1400 in 2005.  These increases are reflected in Pennsylvania where the number of distilleries has gone from single digits in 2011 to over 80 in 2019.  Similar growth is occurring internationally and in related sectors such as craft hard cider and seltzer.

With this growth there has also been a rise in trademark filings with the United States Patent and ... Read More ›

While it is sometimes the case that intellectual property lawsuits involve subject matter that is overly technical or perhaps difficult to relate to, there are times when these lawsuits involve subjects from popular culture that capture the imagination. That is just the case with two recent lawsuits, one involving a beloved figure in Philadelphia sports, and the other focused on the Old Spice commercial jingle.

The subject matter of The Phillies, L.P. v. Harrison/Erickson, Incorporated et al, 1:19-cv-07239 (August 2, 2019), pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern ... Read More ›

Does a generic term in one country render trademark protection unavailable in another? Not in the U.S.!

Under U.S. law, generic trademarks are common terms used to refer to products or services. What you’re using right now to read this blog post – a computer, a phone – no one can claim rights to these terms. Generic trademarks are not qualified for protection and cannot be registered.  Conversely, even the strongest of trademarks can, over time, become generic and lose their registration. Products like aspirin, linoleum, and yo-yo were once registered as federal trademarks ... Read More ›

March’s arrival signals the onset of Spring and college basketball bracket battles. The three-week basketball tournament gradually whittles 64 teams down to two for a final showdown. It may come as a surprise to fans to learn that the tournament has not always been known as “March Madness” and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) is not the first organization to use the term. This is particularly surprising given that “March Madness” is the NCAA’s biggest money maker, reaping 85 percent of the organization’s yearly budget.1 That revenue is made ... Read More ›

With each Olympics, the iconic five interlocking rings and Team USA paraphernalia are inescapable. The high profile and high profit marks are tenaciously protected both on an international and national stage.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) earn billions of dollars worldwide through licensing use of their iconic rings, name, athletes’ images and other trademarks. In fact, being a top sponsor of the Olympics can cost a company hundreds of millions of dollars. Panasonic paid a cool $350 million in 2016 for an eight-year ... Read More ›

Many consumers and companies are familiar in some form or another, but until a recent Federal Circuit ruling, companies and individuals looking to pursue tongue-in-cheek or risqué marks faced an uphill battle in obtaining federal trademark registrations. On December 15, 2017, the Federal Circuit ruled in In re Brunetti1 that the bar on registering immoral or scandalous trademarks under the Lanham Trademark Act, Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), “is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.”

Appellant, Erik Brunetti, founded the clothing brand “fuct” in ... Read More ›

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