Posts in Trademarks and Brand Protection.
Watch Out for Fake Patent and Trademark Solicitations!

Scam solicitations involving intellectual property notices have plagued trademark and patent owners for many years. As technology and scammer sophistication improve, these schemes are becoming more prevalent and confusing, and a growing international problem. Currently the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is tracking over 50 such scams originating in the U.S. and dozen overseas. Staying vigilant is the best protection.

Typically, these fraudulent solicitations target owners of U.S. registrations and patents. They often provide misleading deadline information ... Read More ›

Nevertheless, She Desisted: Kristen Bell, Shattered Glass, and Why Your Podcast Needs a Trademark

Actress Kristen Bell, alongside her business partner Monica Padman, debuted a limited series podcast this summer, which focused on sharing the stories of exceptional women. They called it Shattered Glass, an homage to the ceiling-smashing work of storied guests like Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Gloria Steinem, and Malala Yousafzai.

By the fifth episode, the podcast had been renamed We Are Supported By and Bell was embroiled in a public skirmish with the creators of a different podcast called Shattered Glass – one that also celebrated the stories of strong women, and that had ... Read More ›

Influencer “Fails” – Avoid These Three Legal Mistakes in Affiliate Marketing

The influencer industry has ballooned in size and importance since the first affiliate marketing network was launched fifteen years ago. With this growth, however, comes increasing legal responsibility for those who profit off it.

Celebrities make headlines for commanding upwards of $1M for sponsored social media posts, but the average influencer is more likely to be a young person, armed with an iPhone and a shoestring budget. In a world where affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and giveaways trump traditional print advertising, influencers - from nano-influencers to Kim ... Read More ›

Trademarks, Priority and 'Frozen' Rights: Important Factors

In the United States, trademark rights flow from use, not registration. A business may be afforded a certain level of trademark protection in its geographic area simply by being the first to use a mark in commerce in connection with its goods or services. However, any unregistered or “common law” rights may be limited geographically. There are critical differences between common law trademark rights and trademark rights obtained via a federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As discussed in this article, priority battles can ... Read More ›

Trouble Ahead for Influencer Revenue

For an estimated $1.6 million, soccer superstar Cristiano Rinaldo will advertise a product in an Instagram post to his 329 million followers. Other celebrities who command more than $1 million per endorsement include Ariana Grande, a handful of Kardashians/Jenners, and The Rock. This practice, known as “influencer marketing,” has ballooned from a $1.7 billion market size in 2016 to an expected $13.8 billion in 2021,  while at the same time upending traditional print and broadcast advertising.

Now, a trademark lawsuit threatens to derail the gravy train. What happens when an ... Read More ›

Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 Provides New Tools for Removing Deadwood Trademark Registrations from the Trademark Register

Under US law, to obtain a trademark registration, an Applicant must demonstrate a bona fide use of the mark in the ordinary course of trade. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in trademark applications that falsely claim a bona fide use in trade. As a result, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has been issuing and maintaining registrations for trademarks that should never have issued. When such fraudulent registrations remain on the Trademark Register, they block the legitimate efforts of businesses to launch new trademarks into the ... Read More ›

In Celebration of Earth Day: How Trademark Law Helps The Environment

On Earth Day, environmentalists all over the world encourage society to reduce its collective carbon footprint. A popular way of generating less waste is “upcycling,” or the practice of taking something no longer being used and giving it new life. Upcycling often increases the value of the object; take, for example, Stuart Haygarth’s chandeliers made entirely from spectacles found on beaches - one sold at auction in 2008 for £36,500.

Upcycling is also at the heart of a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In Hamilton International v ... Read More ›

Congressional Spending Bill Includes Significant Trademark and Copyright Rules

Significant intellectual property law provisions are part of the $2.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress.

Copyrights

In the copyright area, the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 is directed to curbing "commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services" that profit from streaming unlicensed or otherwise illegally copied copyrighted material. Penalties could include significant fines and imprisonment. The law currently has a carve-out for "individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.”

The new laws ... Read More ›

Brexit and Trademarks: The Time Is Now

As the political dust kicked up by Brexit very gradually settles, the focus has shifted from “What if?” to “Now, what?” In a post-Brexit world, what can U.S. companies expect, particularly with respect to their European Union (EU) trademark and design rights? And more importantly, what can U.S. companies do about it?

In thinking about Brexit, it’s helpful to keep a few things in mind. First, the breakup is taking place at the same time as an unprecedented global pandemic, which has delivered major shocks to the world’s economic systems and institutions. Brexit would be a ... Read More ›

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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