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Practical Perspectives on Intellectual Property Legal Developments

Category Archives: Trademark

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Omaha! Feds Tackle Counterfeiters of NFL® Merchandise in Lead Up to the Big Game

Posted in Customs, Trademark
On Thursday, multiple federal law enforcement agencies announced that they have seized infringing knock off NFL® merchandise and Super Bowl® tickets valued at more than $20 million. Agents from both the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with NFL® officials, conducted perhaps the largest Super Bowl® counterfeiting sting ever in what has become an annual tradition… Continue Reading

Coach Loses Design Mark Battle Against E&D Trading, Inc.

Posted in Trademark
Coach Services, Inc., of the design house offering handbags, footwear and other luxury goods, recently lost a design mark battle challenging registerability of E&D Trading, Inc.'s ("E&D") mark for DP in stylized format (the "Challenged Mark") on the basis that it is likely to cause confusion with Coach's federally registered "Signature C Design" marks. The parties' marks both cover eyewear, among other goods. Coach's protest was lodged with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ("TTAB"), an administrative body that is part of the Trademark Office and has authority to rule on challenges to registerability of marks, among other issues. TTAB proceedings and procedure are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as the detailed rules set forth in the TTAB's Manual of Procedure ("TBMP")… Continue Reading

NFL Scores Big Win Against Websites Offering Counterfeit Merchandise

Posted in Trademark
On June 28th, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the Southern District of New York entered a default judgment in favor of the National Football League® ("NFL®") against operators of more than 1,997 websites utilizing 1,223 infringing domain names, all of which were offering counterfeit NFL merchandise. In doing so, the District Court awarded the NFL a $273 million judgment against the website operators and injunctive relief… Continue Reading

Free Speech May Allow Disparagement, but the Trademark Office Does Not: TTAB Affirms Refusal to Register STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA

Posted in Trademark
On February 7, 2013, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the refusal to register the mark, STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA, for "providing information regarding understanding and preventing terrorism" on the basis that the mark "may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols." The registration of disparaging marks is explicitly prohibited by Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a)… Continue Reading

The Trademark Rush Continues: HARBOWL and KAEPERNICK ….

Posted in Trademark
The upcoming Super Bowl, pitting San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh against his older brother, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, has been dubbed "Harbowl" by some. An individual in Rockville, Maryland is attempting to take this name to a new level, by filing a federal trademark application for use of the mark "HarBowl" on athletic apparel… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Finds Covenant Not to Sue Sufficiently Broad

Posted in Trademark
Trademark holders no longer have to worry about not being able to dismiss a case by entering into a properly drafted covenant not to sue. In Already, LLC, dba Yums v. Nike, Inc., the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Second Circuit's opinion by ruling that Nike's covenant not to sue Yums for trademark infringement was sufficiently broad to render moot Yums' challenge to the validity of Nike's asserted registration. Yums had no reasonable apprehension of litigation and Nike met its burden of showing that Yums could not be sued later. Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion, which required a high standard for parties issuing the covenant, as they bear a "formidable burden" to establish that it is "absolutely clear" that the allegedly wrongful conduct cannot reasonably be expected to reoccur. Remand was not necessary under the circumstances, because the Court found that it "cannot conceive" of any shoe that Yums could make "that would potentially infringe Nike's trademark and yet not fall under the Covenant." Arguably, the Court construed the covenant so broadly as to exclude a claim of infringement based on Yums' sale of the exact shoe covered by Nike's challenged registration… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Already LLC v. Nike, Inc.

Posted in Litigation, Trademark
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Already, LLC d/b/a Yums v. Nike, Inc. As we reported previously, that case arose from an appeal of the Second Circuit's decision affirming the Southern District of New York's holding that a covenant not to sue entered in a trademark dispute ended the case and controversy between the parties. We enclose the full transcript of the oral argument… Continue Reading

Tim Tebow Time in the Trademark Office . . . .

Posted in Trademark
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") recently published for opposition the mark TIM TEBOW. The applicant for the mark in these various goods and services is XV Enterprises LLC of Denver, Colorado, who has indicated that Tim Tebow, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner and New York Jets quarterback (formerly with the Denver Broncos), has consented to the applications… Continue Reading

Declaratory Judgment Suit Over ROHAN Trademark

Posted in Trademark
D'Artagnan Trademarks LLC, ("DT") recently sued the Saul Zaentz Company ("SZ") in the District of New Jersey regarding the trademark ROHAN. In December 2011, DT filed a trademark application for ROHAN in connection with the sale of poultry, namely, duck. The PTO approved the application and SZ opposed its registration when it published for opposition in late March. SZ alleged that it has exclusive rights to certain trademarks (the "Marks") derived from the trilogy of books known as "The Lord of the Rings," by J.R.R. Tolkien. Readers might recall that in the books, "Rohan" is a fictional realm within the fantasy world of the stories. SZ alleges it owns federal trademark registrations for ROHAN, RIDERS OF ROHAN and ROHAN NUTRITION, relating to animal feed and feed supplements for horses, plastic figurines for use with table top hobby battle games, and website services about computer games. SZ has a number of licensees using these marks… Continue Reading

Trademark Parody? Ben & Jerry’s Doesn’t Think It’s So Funny ….

Posted in Trademark
Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. ("Ben & Jerry's"), the Vermont-based ice cream maker, recently filed a lawsuit in SDNY against adult video company Rodax Distributors, Inc. d/b/a Caballero Video, et al ("Defendants"). The complaint alleged trademark and trade dress dilution and infringement, and related claims arising from Defendants' production and distribution of a series of hardcore pornographic DVDs whose titles and packaging play upon the names and trade dress of some of Ben & Jerry's federally registered and famous marks… Continue Reading

Yums v. Nike Update — Two Amicus Curiae Briefs Filed: One Arguing Vacatur and Remand and the Second in Support of Yums

Posted in Trademark
Last week, in a prior blog, we reported that Petitioner Already, LLC d/b/a Yums ("Yums") filed its opening brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that a trademark registrant's post-suit covenant not to sue does not divest a Federal District Court of standing to review a challenge to the validity of the underlying trademark registration… Continue Reading

Color Trademarks Remain in Fashion: Second Circuit Sides with Louboutin

Posted in Trademark
Earlier today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its long-awaited decision in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America Holding, Inc.. The Appellate Court decision reversed the lower court's finding that a single color can never serve as a trademark for fashion. It also found that Louboutin's red, lacquered shoe outsole had acquired distinctiveness and is protectable as a trademark. However, the Court went on to state that the trademark is "limited to uses where the red outsole contrasts with the color of the remainder of the shoe." The case has now been remanded to the District Court for further proceedings… Continue Reading

Already v. Nike: Petitioner’s Brief Asserts that Jurisdiction Remains Despite Covenant Not to Sue

Posted in Patent, Trademark
In a prior blog, we reported that the Supreme Court had granted certiorari in Already, LLC dba Yums v. Nike, Inc., No. 11-982, to an appeal from the Second Circuit's decision affirming the Southern District of New York's holding that a covenant not to sue entered in a trademark dispute ended the case and controversy between the parties… Continue Reading

ICANN Releases Listing of gTLD Applications

Posted in Trademark
Today, ICANN, the Internet's domain name registration watch dog, will publish a listing of nearly 1,900 new generic Top-Level Domains ("gTLDs") that may be approved for use as early as March 2013. We previously wrote about ICANN's expansion program and suggested safeguards that companies could implement to protect themselves… Continue Reading

Newly-Adopted U.S. Customs Rule Provides Brand Owners with Critical Information to Combat the Import of Counterfeit Goods

Posted in Trademark
For brand owners facing the challenges posed by counterfeiting, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol ("CBP") recently adopted a new temporary rule which has the potential to make it much easier to combat the import of counterfeit goods into the United States ("Interim Rule"). The Interim Rule provides that in instances where the CBP has suspicions regarding the authenticity of goods being imported, and the importer fails to provide proof of genuineness, the CBP is permitted to share detailed information about the suspect goods and importer with brand owners. This represents a welcome sea change in CBP policy for brand owners who have long been frustrated by CBP's policy regarding limited information sharing… Continue Reading

CAVEAT EMPTOR! – USPTO Issues Warning on Misleading Third Party Communications

Posted in Trademark, USPTO
The United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") has issued a warning notice advising trademark owners to beware of third party communications that "mimic the look of official government documents" and request payment of fees. That notice was issued after a number of owners reported to the USPTO that they had made payments in response to such requests, believing that they were for official fees and then learned that they were not… Continue Reading

Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy

Posted in Patent, Trademark
The U.S. Commerce Department recently released a comprehensive report, entitled "Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus," which identified 75 industries as IP intensive. The Report found that IP at such industries supported at least 40 million jobs in 2011. As of 2010, IP comprised more than $5 trillion dollars, or 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and accounted for 27.1 million American jobs. Between 2010 and 2011, the U.S. economic recovery resulted in a 1.6% increase in direct employment in IP-intensive industries, faster than the 1.0% growth in non-IP-intensive industries… Continue Reading

gTLDs Pose New Threats in Cyberspace

Posted in Dilution, E-Commerce, Trademark
On January 12, 2012, ICANN, the Internet's domain name registration watch dog, began accepting applications for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) to add to those already in existence, including .com, .net, .biz and others. Under the new scheme, any company can apply for a gTLD, thereby expanding the domain name system (DNS). Ultimately, this expansion will change the Internet forever. Each new gTLD poses an incremental risk for trademark owners who are already under heavy assault in cyberspace from cybersquatting (registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark owner), brandjacking (assuming the online identity of another entity for the purposes of trading on another's brand equity), and typosquatting (registering URLs with common misspellings) by those seeking to generate illicit profits. According to the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), cybersquatting already costs trademark owners more than $1 billion each year due to lost sales, lost goodwill, and increased enforcement costs. However, with a major increase in gTLDs, many corporations fear an expansion in expensive litigation to enforce their brands and trademarks… Continue Reading

Protecting Your Company – Trademark Basics You Need to Know

Posted in Trademark
The Gibbons Women's Initiative is hosting an upcoming program for in-house counsel entitled, "Protecting Your Company - Trademark Basics You Need to Know," on Thursday, March 8 from 8:30 - 10:15 am at Gibbons Newark Office. This program will feature Catherine M. Clayton, a Director in the Gibbons Intellectual Property Department, who leads the firm's trademark practice. Ms. Clayton has a broad range of experience in trademark and copyright law, and her practice encompasses litigation, licensing and prosecution… Continue Reading

The “Linsanity” Continues …..

Posted in Trademark
The New York Knicks' rising superstar point guard, Jeremy Lin, continues to wow fans around the world. Lin's NBA ascent also has prompted a rush to the Trademark Office. Over 20 applications for word marks that bear the letters L-I-N already have been filed. These include LIN-SATIONAL; ALL LIN; LINSPIRATION; I'M A LINNER; LINSOMNIA: LINCREDIBLE; and other derivations using the star's last name. The frenzy began with applications for the seemingly ubiquitous LINSANITY catch phrase, which were filed on February 7 and February 9, as the star's career took off. Most of the applications to date have been filed on an intent to use basis, that is, the applicant has expressed a bona fide intent to use the mark in interstate commerce… Continue Reading

IP Law 2012: A Look Ahead . . . .

Posted in Patent, Pharmaceuticals, Trademark, USPTO
Coming off a year that included the Smith-Leahy "America Invents Act," 2012 portends to have some significant developments in IP law. Decisions for IP practitioners and industry to watch for include: the Supreme Court's decision in Caraco Pharm. Labs. Ltd. v. Novo Nordisk A/S, regarding "use codes" and section viii carve-outs under the Hatch-Waxman Act; the Supreme Court's decision in Mayo v. Prometheus, regarding patentable subject matter, post-Bilski; and the Federal Circuit's upcoming en banc decisions in McKesson and Akamai, regarding joint infringement liability… Continue Reading

Coming Soon to New Jersey . . . Trade Secrets Law!

Posted in Trademark
New Jersey, along with New York, Massachusetts and Texas, are the only states that have not adopted some form of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Not for much longer. Last week, the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act, A-921/S-2456 passed unanimously in the New Jersey Assembly, and is on its way to the Governor's desk. Governor Christie will have 45 days to sign the measure into law. Once enacted, the law will be effective immediately, but will not apply retroactively… Continue Reading
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