Trademark Red Tape: Incoming Fee Increases And Sweeping TTAB Rule Changes

ASDJune 2016

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:

Disparaging Marks Still Held in Abeyance. As an update to our last Trademark Red Tape, the USPTO, which has now filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court in In re Tam with respect to the constitutionality of… More

Jimi Hendrix Portrait Denied Copyright Protection For Lack of Originality

HendrixFrance is often presented as a country which is quite protective of IP owners, especially in the field of trademarks and copyright.‎ However, a recent decision rendered by the Paris District Court in relation to a portrait of Jimi Hendrix clearly goes in the opposite direction.

Gered Mankowitz is an English photographer who is the author of many portraits of pop and rock stars, such as Kate Bush, the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix. In 2013, Mankowitz saw that his 1967 photograph… More

When Is Internet Speech Protected Petitioning Activity? Federal Court Grants Anti-SLAPP Motion In FIRE CIDER Trademark Suit

Free Fire CiderOn May 12, 2016, the District of Massachusetts held that that an online campaign in support of the cancellation of a registered trademark (FIRE CIDER) was protected petitioning activity, even though the campaign was organized and supported by the trademark owner’s competitors. Because the campaign activity was protected, the Court granted the competitors’ anti-SLAPP special motion to dismiss certain claims.  The case, Shire City Herbals v. Blue, provides insight into the applicability of the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute to internet activity.

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Southern District Still Screams For Ice Cream – And Attorneys’ Fees – In Master Softee Trademark Dispute

Mister Softee

Memorial Day weekend is coming, marking the unofficial start of summer.  The Southern District of New York has marked the occasion by entering a judgment for attorneys’ fees and costs against Mister Softee copycat, Master Softee. As you may recall, we provided an update on the Master Softee matter in December 2015, when Judge Laura Taylor Swain issued a default judgment against Dimitrio Tsirkos, including a permanent injunction order, damages, pre-judgment interest and attorneys fees.  In this new order,… More

Brainstorm: FTC Continues Enforcement Trend Against Cognitive Function Claims

LearningRXContinuing its trend of scrutinizing claims touting improved cognitive function, the Federal Trade Commission recently announced a settlement with LearningRx Franchise Corp. (“LFC”), the developer and franchisor of a chain of “LearningRx centers” providing one-on-one cognitive training to consumers.  The FTC’s settlement with LFC comes in the wake of several other high-profile FTC actions involving cognition claims, including a $2 million settlement with Lumos Labs, Inc. (brain training app and video games), a $1.4 million settlement with Brain Research Labs, Inc. (dietary… More

First Circuit Affirms FTC Social Media Order: Jerk.com Users Jerked Around By Material Misrepresentations

JerkIn Fanning v. Federal Trade Commission, the First Circuit affirmed a summary decision of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which found that Jerk LLC, the operator of Jerk.com, materially misrepresented both the source of its content and the nature of its membership benefits, in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. However, the Court also curtailed certain monitoring provisions ordered by the FTC, finding that they were not reasonably related to the violations.

“Welcome to Jerk”

Jerk.com was started in 2009… More

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine: A Useful IP Litigation Tool, But Is It Admissible?

waybackThe Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine archives copies of websites every few weeks or months, going back to 1996. The Wayback Machine currently has almost 500 billion archived webpages.  By entering a website into the Wayback Machine, a user can see what archived copies of the website are available and then view those historical copies. For example, this link brings you to a copy of the Trademark & Copyright Law blog as it existed on April 28, 2010, shortly after its founding. … More

Trademarks and Gators: 10 Tips to Survive and Thrive at the INTA Annual Meeting in Orlando

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It’s that time of the year again, when thousands of trademark professionals from around the globe converge to share legal developments and best practices, develop professional relationships, and enjoy the sights and sounds of a new city.  This year’s International Trademark Association (INTA) Annual Meeting is in sunny Orlando, Florida, and it’s quickly approaching.

While there are many trademark-focused bar and industry organizations that offer periodic meetings around the globe, certainly nothing approaches the INTA Annual Meeting in terms… More

Alcohol Trademarks of the 1800’s: California Uncorks the Past

asdfFor the last two years, we have published the Trademark Year in Wine and Beer, a catalogue of each year’s trademark disputes in the alcoholic beverage industry. That is why we were extra excited on April 21, 2016 when the California Secretary of State announced the release of nearly 4,000 digitized trademark applications filed between 1861 and 1900. These “Old Series Trademarks,” registered under California’s “Act Concerning Certain Trademarks” of 1861 and the Trademark Registration Act of… More

Fair Use Copyright Ruling Stands For Google Books

GoogleLast month, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., the long-running copyright case involving Google’s Google Books project.  The high court’s refusal to hear the case leaves in place the Second Circuit’s October 2015 decision in favor of Google and brings to a close this highly publicized and closely watched litigation, more than a decade after it began.  The Second Circuit’s opinion, which the Supreme Court has left undisturbed, held that Google Books is protected as fair use, a conclusion considered by many to… More

Top Five Reasons Why You Should File For Trademark Protection In Cuba

Businessmen handshake - United States and CubaAs the U.S. and Cuba progress towards normalizing trade relations, many U.S. companies are contemplating whether it makes sense to do business in Cuba.  While some companies already plan to enter the Cuban market, others have no plans to do so.  Regardless of where your company falls on that spectrum, failing to protect your brand in Cuba could create major obstacles down the road, even if you have no immediate plans to offer products or… More

Congress Passes Sweeping New Legislation To Protect Trade Secrets

GyroLast week, in a departure from the partisan gridlock that has gripped Washington, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing a sweeping new statute to protect trade secrets. The legislation, which President Obama strongly supported and is expected to sign within days, creates a new federal civil cause of action for trade secret theft.

The speed with which Congress passed this legislation – entitled the Defend Trade Secrets Act of… More

Of Slants, Skins And Signs: The March To The Supreme Court

SlantsThis week saw developments in the two cases challenging the application of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act to their registration: In re Tam and Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc.

In re Tam

We have discussed In re Tam in prior posts.  In December 2015, the en banc Federal Circuit struck down Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which prohibits the registration of marks that may disparage persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.  The Court held that the provision was facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment… More

Celebrity Trademark Watch: Beyoncé Sues Feyoncé and Fame is the Name of the Game

RINGBeyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, known to most as simply Beyoncé, and as “Bey” to those who like to pretend they know her, is about as famous as one can be.  She transitioned from the acclaimed group “Destiny’s Child” to become one of the biggest pop stars in the world.  Number one hits, Grammy Awards, sold-out tours, and even a reasonably successful film career are firmly under her fashionable belt.

As a testament to… More