Tag Archives: Trademark Bullies

Nike’s Successful Retreat Strategy: Trademark Defendant’s Invalidity Counterclaim Is Moot Following Plaintiff’s Covenant Not to Sue

Nike, having sued competitor Already LLC for infringing its marks, later issued a covenant not to sue to Already and sought to dismiss the case.  Defendant Already, however, had filed a counterclaim seeking a declaration that Nike’s mark was invalid, and argued that that counterclaim should proceed.  The District Court dismissed the counterclaim, and the Second Circuit affirmed that there was no ongoing case or controversy.  In an opinion issued yesterday, the Supreme Court affirmed this outcome.

Much of the affirming opinion came down to semantics.  The… More

How to Protect Your Brand Without Being a Trademark Bully: Lessons from The North Face and Coke

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A version of this article, which was co-authored by Anthony E. Rufo, was reprinted in the World Trademark Review.

How can the owners of famous trademarks enforce their rights without being given the dreaded “trademark bully” label? The answer lies in knowing where to draw the line, and in exercising diplomacy in letting people know when the line has been crossed.

Many brand owners tolerate minor third party uses of their marks, including unauthorized parodies, fan clubs and the like, which are undertaken in good faith. But brand… More

More Thoughts on the “Trademark Bully” Report: The Department of Commerce did a Good Job with a Bad Assignment

I am attending the INTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, and a number of people are talking about the “trademark bully” report released a few weeks ago by the Department of Commerce. During these conversations, it became clear that a few people misconstrued some comments that I made to the press and in my prior blog post . I would like to clarify my views.
While I am not in favor of devoting scarce government resources to address the so-called trademark bullies issue, I have no problem with how the Department of Commerce conducted the study. In fact, I think the Department of Commerce did a good job carrying out the directive of Congress…

Overhyped “Trademark Bully” Study Delivers Predictable Results

The long-awaited study of so-called trademark bullies was recently released by the Department of Commerce. As you may recall from our prior blog post, the study was the result of legislation filed by Senator Leahy of Vermont and signed into law by President Obama on March 17, 2010 (Pub. L. 111-146, Sec. 4). The legislation gave the Secretary of Commerce one year to “study and report to [Congress] the extent to which small businesses may be harmed by litigation tactics [by corporations] [the purpose of which is] attempting to enforce trademark rights beyond a reasonable interpretation of the scope of the rights granted to the trademark owner.” (Subsequent to enactment, the words “of corporations” were stricken and replaced by “the purpose of which is” by Pub.L. 111-295, Sec. 6(h).)

Trademark Bullies, the Legislature and the Courts

Nobody likes a bully, and I think we can all agree that the world would be a better place without bullying. Yet bullying in the schoolyard is not the same as bullying in the courtroom, and the issues can be complex. Is it fair to apply the bully label to any intellectual property owner who seeks to enforce its rights against a smaller company or who ultimately loses the case? If not, how can one tell the difference between legitimate enforcement and so-called bullying? These tricky issues are raised in a recent trademark bill signed into law earlier this month.

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