If you’re interested in garbage, the crass objectification of male celebrities, or both – or if you consider the two roughly equivalent – have I got a false advertising case for you! Despite their “Don’t Get Mad; Get Glad” tagline, the makers of Glad trash bags got pretty mad at a recent advertising campaign launched by their competitor, Hefty. So mad, in fact, that they filed a complaint with the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau.… More
As all aspects of business inexorably shift toward online, it is not surprising that intellectual property infringement, cybersquatting, and related internet abuses abound. Luckily, there are various procedures available by which aggrieved companies can seek relief short of litigation.
A decision rendered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on March 2, 2017, affirming a General Court ruling and potentially ending a nearly twenty-year legal battle, is a reminder to trademark owners that what is generic in one territory can be distinctive in another.
Doughnuts are well-known in the U.S. but, until recently, they were far less known in Europe.… More
En route to Paris for the spring conference of the Pharmaceutical Trade Marks Group, I am contemplating trying to pay a visit to the PARIS BEACH CLUB. Paris Beach Club! Get it? It’s a joke because, as everyone of course knows, Paris is land-locked and has no beach.
Or so goes the reasoning of one of my favorite Trademark Trial & Appeal Board cases,… More
On March 14, 2017, the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) will officially invalidate a whole bunch of consumer contract clauses that pertain to online reviews.
During the last decade, we started hearing reports about professionals using form contracts to prevent their clients or patients from publishing negative online reviews. Here’s an example of how it worked: You showed up for a dentist appointment and,… More
It’s March, which means that wedding season is nearly upon us. Let’s say you run your own wedding-related business with one employee: you. A customer gives you a review on the internet that is not only negative, but contains false statements. Who is harmed by this false review: you, your business or both? And if you want to sue the former customer, what is your cause of action?… More
Last month, the Broadway hit-musical Jersey Boys closed its doors after a spectacular eleven-year run. As someone who hails from the great state of New Jersey and who saw the show twice, I thought it was only appropriate to give Jersey Boys a formal send off. And what better way for a copyright lawyer to honor Jersey Boys than to write about two Jersey Boys-related copyright suits?… More
Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act prohibits false or misleading statements in commerce that are likely to cause confusion as to a person’s affiliation, approval or sponsorship of someone else’s commercial activities. Here’s an easy example: You take an iconic photograph of a celebrity and, without the celebrity’s permission, incorporate it into the wrapper of a candy bar you are selling. Consumers are confused into thinking the celebrity has endorsed the candy bar,… More
Are journalists protected by anti-SLAPP statutes? Until last week, the likely answer would have been: “probably not,” at least in Massachusetts. But that was before Cardno Chemrisk, LLC v. Foytlin, a recent opinion by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (which we Bay Staters refer to as the “SJC”). The case involved a Huffington Post story about a chemical consulting firm involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation.… More
Naming pharmaceutical and biologic products presents unique challenges from both trademark and regulatory perspectives. In addition to the traditional marketing goals of trademark selection, companies evaluating names for medications must also consider safety issues, false advertising concerns, and more. Importantly, pharmaceutical trademarks must pass muster not only with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), but also with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The recent advent of a market for biosimilars presents new questions and challenges.… More
Valentine’s Day is upon us yet again. Chances are, you and your sweetheart will find yourselves together in a restaurant on February 14th. Roses may be gifted, chocolate confections may be consumed, and to drink – why, champagne of course. Is any other spirituous potable more synonymous with love than a bit of bubbly? The clinking of flutes or coupe glasses is an unmistakable counterpoint in the soundtrack of virtually every wedding and anniversary celebration.… More
It’s that time of the year again when New York City becomes the most fashionable place on the planet. While I would argue that Manhattan is always fashionable, New York Fashion Week adds a bit of extra excitement, glamour and coolness to the mix. Fashion Week kicks off this Thursday, February 9 through Thursday, February 16, and as usual, the fashion world is all abuzz over who will be the designer-to-watch. … More
Two years ago, I started worrying about what would happen if someone at a Super Bowl party asked me to explain an NFL-related lawsuit, particularly one of those intellectual property lawsuits that sports fans assume IP lawyers know about. This anxiety led me to put together the Sue-per Bowl Shuffle I and Sue-per Bowl Shuffle II: guides to trademark, copyright, patent and other intellectual property disputes concerning the NFL during 2014 and 2015 respectively.… More
When you see the name DOTBLOG, what does it mean to you? Is it just a blog about DOTS candy? Or about the painter George Seurat? Maybe it indicates a service that will help you punctuate your blog entries? Ok, probably not, but it must have something to do with blogs, right? Or something online, perhaps? If these assumptions are correct, does that make the mark merely descriptive for trademark purposes? … More
With some cases, you just shake your head. In this case, a restaurant purveyor thought it would be okay to open a restaurant by the name of the “Krusty Krab.” For those of you who have no reason to have been watching cartoons for the past 20 years, this is the name of the restaurant in which SpongeBob SquarePants works, flipping crabby patties as a fry cook. … More