Earlier this month, KISS guitarist Gene Simmons filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to register the “devil’s horns” hand gesture, which he routinely flashes at rock shows, as a trademark for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.” This bold move brings up a number of interesting questions, ranging from “Does the gesture really function as an indicator of source that points to Simmons?” to “How will he ever enforce it?” to “Can you really claim trademark rights in a hand gesture?” For a number of reasons,… More
Tag Archives: Registration
Registration is not required for valid copyright ownership, but it is required before you can bring a copyright infringement lawsuit. Section 411(a) of the Copyright Act provides that:
No civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until . . . registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title. In any case,… More
Our readers no doubt understand that trademark use is the basis for trademark protection in the U.S. But all use is not created equal, and sometimes it’s not so easy to tell whether a trademark is actually used in a manner sufficient to qualify for federal trademark registration. A recent Federal Circuit decision promises to make this determination a little bit easier.
The U.S.… More
August 25, 2016 marks the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, which runs the nation’s 413 national parks. Although I am not a particularly outdoorsy person, my relatives are, so here we are on summer vacation in Acadia National Park in Maine. I must admit that it is really beautiful here, and the mosquitoes have not devoured me yet. As a trademark lawyer, however, I can’t help but be reminded of what has become one of the most controversial trademark disputes of all time –… More
As 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 services in Cuba.… More
Just as it is important for start-up companies to be mindful of early-stage trademark and copyright protection strategies (see our guides entitled “Trademark Strategies for Start-Up Companies” and “Copyright Strategies for Start-Up Companies”), savvy start-up founders will be thinking about domain name acquisition and related issues right at the beginning.
These days, it is essential for a start-up company to have at least a basic web presence,… More
As a leader of a start-up company, you are probably aware of the importance of protecting your company’s innovative products, services and technologies through patent filings. If you are savvy, you are also aware of the importance of having a trademark and branding strategy as well (see our guide entitled “Trademark Strategies for Start-Up Companies”). Most start-up companies overlook copyright issues, however, and this can create problems down the road. … More
Most innovative start-up companies appreciate that a sound patent strategy is critical to success in the marketplace, and in making the company attractive to investors and future acquirers. But they overlook the importance of having a trademark strategy right out of the gate. Trademarks are an essential part of any successful company’s branding strategy. In addition, there are a number of reasons why an early investment in trademark strategy can have big payoffs —… More
Supreme Court’s B&B Hardware ruling creates the potential for court deference to the TTAB — but will it happen?
Did TTAB proceedings — until now considered a relatively obscure branch of IP litigation, conducted before an administrative body of which most attorneys are blissfully unaware — just assume greater importance? That seems to be the general reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in B&B Hardware v. Hargis Industries last month.
B&B Hardware took an unusually aggressive approach to its trademark dispute with Hargis,… More
Yesterday marked the sunrise launch of the .porn and .adult generic top-level domains (gTLDs), which join .xxx in the top-level domain name space as gTLDs targeted mainly at online purveyors of adult entertainment. As with .xxx, the introduction of these adult-themed gTLDs presents yet another annoyance for trademark owners already fatigued by the weekly onslaught of gTLDs introduced over the past couple of years pursuant to ICANN’s expansion of the domain name space. … More
As autumn sets in and Halloween approaches, my mind turns to jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, and phantoms. Phantom marks, that is. Equally incorporeal though perhaps somewhat less frightening than their ghostly namesakes, phantom marks are registered trademarks that contain a “phantom,” or changeable, element. A well-known phantom registration was _ _ _ _ _ _ FOR DUMMIES for various self-help books,… More
As any IP lawyer will readily admit, trademark practice before the United States Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) comes with its fair share of annoyances: inconsistent treatment of similar applications, unreasonably stringent identification requirements, and so forth. Another difficulty lies in what appears to be a large number of registrations subsisting on the federal register, past their initial maintenance filings, despite a high likelihood that such marks are no longer used,… More
Late last year, in a matter of first impression, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and held that the city of Houston could not register its official municipal seal with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The basis for this decision was 15 U.S.C. § 1052(b), which forbids trademark registration for the “flag or coat of arms or other insignia of .… More
Are You There, Copyright Office? It’s Me, First Circuit! Can Composers Deposit Infringing Musical Works In Place of The Original?
Copyright law usually has little patience for plaintiffs who don’t have a copy of their original work to deposit with the Copyright Office. For example, in Seiler v. Lucasfilm, a plaintiff who claimed to have created the “Imperial Walkers” in The Empire Strikes Back film had his case dismissed because,… More