The First Circuit’s “Scungy” Backpage: Copyright And Right Of Publicity Claims Ineffective Against Sex Trafficking

BackpageIn Doe v. Backpage.com, the First Circuit affirmed the District of Massachusetts in holding that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) shields from civil liability a website used by third parties to facilitate the sex trafficking of underage girls.  If you haven’t had a chance to follow the case, there are three basic takeaways: (1) the immunity provided by Section 230 of the CDA is very broad; (2) the judges are no happier about it than… More

Of Slants, Skins and Signs: No Relief For Trademark Applicant Until Supreme Court Weighs In

SlantsAs part of our continuing monitoring of this issue (see articles here, here and here), we bring you the latest chapter in the saga over the registration of THE SLANTS trademark. After the en banc Federal Circuit struck down Section 2(a) as facially unconstitutional, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, rather than withdrawing the objection to the registration, chose to suspend the application pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  This did not sit well with Mr. Tam, who petitioned the Federal Circuit… More

CARRERA’s Trademark Reputation: “Luxury, High Tech, High Performance and Success”

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The German carmaker, Porsche AG, which designed the iconic 911 Carrera sports car, owns the European Union and German “CARRERA” word mark, registered for “automobiles” in class 12. How far beyond automobiles does the protection afforded by that registration extend?  Pretty far, according to recent outcome of a long running European trademark dispute, which affirmed that Porsche’s trademark protection extends to “complementary” products, and also to dissimilar products if the applicant is seeking to take unfair advantage of Porsche’s… More

Skippy Still Hates Peanut Butter: TTAB Denies Petition To Cancel 1947 Trademark Registration . . . Again

Skippy 1Two years ago in March, in honor of National Peanut Month, we recounted the truly epic struggle for the SKIPPY mark between the once-iconic cartoon character and the still-iconic peanut butter brand. The story began nearly 90 years ago and involves a multi-generational dispute between one indefatigable family and a succession of large food companies. The very first decision in this dispute was issued by the US Trademark Office in 1933.  The most recent was issued… More

Adidas To Trademark Competitors: ‘Two Stripes, You’re Out’

Last month, a U.S. district court in Oregon granted Adidas’ motion for a preliminary injunction against U.S. footwear company Sketchers USA Inc., blocking Sketchers from selling, among other sneakers, a 3-stripe sneaker design that allegedly infringes Adidas’ 3-stripe registered trademark and one of its sneaker designs.

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The European Union recently afforded an even wider range of protection for the Adidas sneaker design, holding that the 2 stripe sneaker design created by Belgium footwear company… More

Trademark Red Tape: Disparaging Marks And TTAB Tidbits

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Welcome to Trademark Red Tape, our periodic round-up of trademark news and happenings at the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Here are the highlights:

A Time-Out for Offensive Trademarks. According to IP Watchdog, Mary Denison, the Commissioner for Trademarks, has issued an “informal” directive to trademark examiners that they should suspend trademark applications that would potentially violate Section 2(a) of the… More

The Coca-Cola Bottle In Europe: No Fluting, No Distinctiveness

CC1Three-dimensional trademarks have given rise to some interesting European Community decisions in the last several months (see, for example, our comments on the Kit Kat and Lego decisions). A decision rendered last week by the General Court, concerning the Coca-Cola bottle shape, confirms that it is a real challenge to obtain registration for these trademarks.

In 2002, the Coca-Cola Company filed a Community trademark application to protect its well-known… More

Trademark and Copyright Law News: January – March 2016

CaptureEarlier today, the Foley Hoag Trademark and Copyright group released its quarterly Trademark & Copyright Law Newsletter, which includes links to a selection of recent blog posts and news about our group. You can find the full newsletter here.

News highlights this quarter include:

World Trademark Review’s 2016 Rankings Distinguishes Foley Hoag Among World’s Leading Trademark Law Firms Foley Hoag Expands Trademark Practice in New York with Addition of Natasha Reed as Counsel Joshua Jarvis Promoted… More

Texas Film Commission Permitted to Slice and Dice Financial Incentives to Machete Films

MacheteIt’s been a disappointing few months for Machete, Danny Trejo’s “Mexploitation” character created by Robert Rodriguez.  After making powerful enemies in Mexico, former Federale Machete found himself a day laborer and vigilante in Texas. His adventures allowed him to exact some bloody satisfaction against fictional corrupt Texas lawmen and politicians, but he is having decidedly less success against the real-world Texas government.  Recently, both state and federal appellate courts affirmed the dismissal of claims brought by… More

Celebrity Trademark Watch: Gift Bag Promoter Not Likely to Thank the Academy for Oscars Trademark Lawsuit

iStock_000035858970_SmallCelebrated film actors have it tough.  After all, only two men and two women can take home a “Best” or “Best Supporting” acting Oscar each year.  The lucky winners of 2016 will be announced this coming Sunday, February 28, during the 88th awards ceremony presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, commonly referred to as the Academy.  The Academy Awards are the culmination of a jam-packed film awards season that includes the Golden Globes, the Screen… More

Justice Scalia on Trademark and Copyright: Dastar, Penguin-Shaped Cocktail Shakers and “Guilt by Resemblance”

ScaliaWhen we decided to mark the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia by recounting a few of his copyright and trademark opinions, we were somewhat surprised to discover that there really hadn’t been that many. In fact, we located only seven matters in which Justice Scalia contributed a written opinion on a substantive issue of trademark or copyright law, and only four were majority opinions. Here they are, in chronological order:

K Mart Corp. v. Cartier, 486 U.S. 281… More

Why President Lincoln Put the Civil War on Hold to Extend Copyright Protection to Photographs

1lWe’ve taken advantage of past Presidents Days to recount George Washington’s role in the history of U.S. Copyright law, specifically the birth of fair use. That role was not insubstantial, but it was posthumous and, therefore, unwitting. By contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s contribution to copyright law was likely quite intentional.

On March 3, 1865, President Lincoln signed into law “An Act to Amend Several Acts Respecting Copyright,” the galley of which contained the subheading: “Photographs … may be copyrighted.” This was the first U.S…. More

From Runway to Replica: Intellectual Property Strategies for Protecting Fashion Designs

Designers like Alexander Wang, Rebecca Minkoff, and Michael Kors are all gearing up to premier their 2016 fall/winter collections this month during New York Fashion Week.  Fashion Week draws more than 230,000 attendees each year to over 500 runway shows and events in New York City.  The economic impact of this biannual event is estimated to be close to $900 million. That’s more than the U.S. Open, which generates approximately $750 million annually for New York, and the Super Bowl, which generated an estimated $550 million when it was held in the… More

Sue-per Bowl Shuffle II: The Year in NFL-Related Intellectual Property Litigation

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Around this time last year, 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 IP-ish lawsuits that I’m supposed to know about. So I put together the first Sue-per Bowl Shuffle, a guide to the year’s gridiron disputes over trademarks, copyright, the right of publicity and other matters with a First Amendment flavor.

This year, we’ve got you covered again. Although the deflate-gate… More

Edge Cases in Copyright

If you are in the Boston area on Feb. 2 and want to hear me and Dan Booth prattle on about weird copyright cases while eating and drinking free stuff with other copyright nerds, please stop by the hip-chic-trendy Seaport this coming Tuesday! Remember to register.

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Don’t miss this CSUSA New England Chapter program!

Edge Cases in Copyright: Theoretical Problems and Practical Answers

February 2, 2016

5:30-7:00pm

Foley Hoag LLP 

155 Seaport Boulevard Boston, MA

REGISTER TODAY  Admission is free, but please… More