Copycat Cookie = Trademark Lawsuit Reply

Last month, Pepperidge Farm sued Trader Joe’s over copycat cookies. Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.57.56 PMPepperidge Farm claims the copycat cookies look too similar to its popular Milano cookies (and feature a similar “fluted paper cup” on their packaging). See the photo to the right. Pepperidge Farm claims these similarities damage its goodwill, confuse consumers and infringe its registered trademark. Interestingly, the Milano cookie shape is a registered trademark [U.S. Registration No. 3,852,499].

A few interesting details:

  • Milano cookies are famous cookies that Pepperidge Farm started selling in 1956.
  • Pepperidge Farm is a successful company, makes lots of money selling Milano cookies and can afford this litigation. (Trader Joe’s can likely afford this too).
  • The packaging of Trader Joe’s cookie features a picture of its cookies displayed in fluted paper cups (which is how Milano cookies are sold); however, the interior packaging is actually a plastic tray.
  • The two cookies are not the exact same shape. Trader Joe’s cookies are more rectangular.

This last point may be difficult to overcome. The court may be Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.46.06 PMreluctant to enforce a product design trademark for a sandwich cookie when the allegedly infringing cookie is not the same shape.  It will be interesting to follow this case and see what happens next.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: a copy of the Complaint filed in December at http://ia601509.us.archive.org/4/items/gov.uscourts.ctd.110383/gov.uscourts.ctd.110383.1.0.pdf; earlier posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; a Reuters news article on the lawsuit: Pepperidge Farm sues Trader Joe’s over Milano cookie at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-traderjoes-pepperidgefarm-lawsuit-idUSKBN0TN1X020151205; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Fans say YES after LEGO says NO (& refuses to fulfill an order for artist Ai Weiwei) Reply

Reading excerpts from a rejection-letter from the LEGO toymaker to the Australian National Gallery in response to a bulk legoorder for an upcoming instillation by the famous, artist Ai Weiwei… is a cautionary reminder of how quickly viral backlash can unfurl.

In addition to refusing to fulfill a bulk order for toy bricks placed by the museum, the LEGO toymaker evidently requested the following in their rejection-letter:

  1. The LEGO trademark cannot be used commercially in any way to promote, or name, the artwork; and
  2. It must be clear to the public that the LEGO Group has not sponsored or endorsed the artwork/project.

In response to the LEGO toymaker’s rejection-letter, collection points have been established around the world for LEGO brick donations to support the art project and the artist has decided to make a new work defending freedom of speech and political art.  (I’d say it’s pretty clear to the public that the LEGO Group has not sponsored or endorsed the art project).

The Brooklyn Museum is accepting LEGO brick donations – donations can be placed in the sunroof of a car parked in front of the museum or can be sent by mail –> https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/ai_weiwei_lego_collection_point

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: earlier posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; a BBC News article titled, “Australia gallery collects Lego for Ai Weiwei at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-34664262; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Wholesome trademark image…. An Apple A Day Reply

While apple picking recently, I noticed the phrase “An Apple A Day” printed on my apple-picking bag.  AppleSeeing this phrase made me curious as to the origin of the longer, common phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  To me this common phrase is a marketing win, win, win; because, it invokes the following three qualities: 1) Health, 2) Wholesomeness, and 3) Daily Use.  I suspect it is no coincidence that APPLE Inc. selected a word-trademark bearing these qualities.

While I love apples… I do not eat one everyday.  However, I do use my APPLE laptop and iPhone daily.  (What would Johnny Appleseed think?)

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: earlier posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; a Smithsonian Article on Johnny Appleseed titled, “The Real Johnny Appleseed brought apples and booze to the American frontier” by N. Geiling at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/real-johnny-appleseed-brought-applesand-booze-american-frontier-180953263/?no-ist; Washington Post article: “History behind ‘An apple a day’″ by M. Ely at http://wpo.st/C94j0; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

CITYSTICKS & POPSICLE tale of two trademarks Reply

CITYSTICK picCITYSTICKS & POPSICLE are two different trademarks for tasty frozen treats.  These two trademarks are owed by two different companies and are both registered with the USPTO.  USPTO trademark registration grants the owner of each trademark exclusive rights to use the registered trademark when selling, advertising and promoting their frozen treats.  This means that the words CITYSTICKS & POPSICLE are off limits to any other person or company selling frozen treats.  For example, if another person or company uses either of the trademarks to sell or advertise competitive goods without permission of the trademark owner they may be infringing the trademark and might be asked by the owner to stop using the trademark (i.e. to cease and desist from infringing the trademark).

POPSICLE is the older of these two trademarks and it’s no coincidence that the CITYSTICKS packaging pictured to the left and below does not use the trademarked term POPSICLE.  Instead the packaging reads, “ice pops with personalities.”  (As you can see, I quickly ate half the CITYSTICKS ice pop before I thought to photograph it for this post.  It was tasty).CITYSTICKS USPTO screen shot

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: more on the POPSICLE trademark and protecting exclusive trademark rights  at http://wp.me/p10nNq-3t, other posts on exclusive trademark rights at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/trademark-exclusive/; USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) resources at www.uspto.gov; #trademark, #branding, #valueyourbrand @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

New Rules for Creative Revenue Reply

Creative revenue streams – Here are a few of my favorites:FullSizeRender (8)

  • Inexpensive monthly subscription fees for access to video tutorials (for example teaching folks to use photography equipment or to play an instrument)
  • Parlaying social media followers into an eager audience for a book launch.
  • Composing music scores for videos and films. (It’s often much more economical for film and video makers to commission original compositions than to try and get rights to popular songs.  When I saw a preview of the documentary “Doing It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball New York City” one of the filmmakers shared that he wished he’d commissioned an all original score from the outset).
  • Demonstration YouTube videos that include a retailer affiliate link. (Retailer affiliate links make money when folks click the link and make a purchase).

I believe that smart, creative, entrepreneurial folks can rise to the top, get noticed and make money (if they want to).

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: “How to write a © Copyright Notice and Why to Use it” at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18; Posts on trademark topics for new businesses: https://goo.gl/xqJrOA; #creativerevenue, #valueyourart, #valueyou; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Using the Registered Trademark Symbol: ® Reply

trademarks on the streetWalking down the block today in New York City, I noticed a dozen famous trademarks: WHOLE FOODS MARKET (store sign), NYC TAXI (decal on a cab);  LOUIS VUITTON (purse), 7 ELEVEN (store sign), CON EDISON (on a service truck), UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE (on a blue mail box), DUNKIN’ DONUTS (store sign), POLO RALPH LAUREN (logo on a man’s shirt), NIKE (swoosh on a shopping bag); HAAGEN-DAZS (on an ice cream delivery truck); GAP (store sign) and MTA (logo on a poster announcing a subway update).

Once a trademark has been registered with the USPTO, the trademark owner is vested with a bundle of exclusive rights to use the trademark AND the owner also has the right to use the coveted Registered Trademark symbol: ®.  The photo-collage inserted into this post points out several uses of the ® symbol that I noticed out on the street.

Here is a brief excerpt from the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s website on using the ® symbol:

[Y]ou may use the federal registration symbol “®” only after the USPTO actually registers a mark , and not while an application is pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.

Registered trademarks are all over the streets of New York City!

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Other blog posts on using trademark symbols at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/trademarks-tm-sm/; USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) resources at www.uspto.gov and www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp#_Toc275426682; INTA (International Trademark Association) fact sheet on trademark use at http://inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/TrademarkUseFactSheet.aspx; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Epic Launch -> of Hillary’s Trademark and Campaign Reply

Launching a trademark on Sunday night and having it featured in a New Yorker cartoon the next day Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.12.23 AMmay be a trademark dream come true.  It’s Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign logo (featuring an H and a right arrow) that has created the buzz of attention.

The Washington Post ran an article on Monday that compiled public comments, reactions and look-a-likes to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign logo.  An interesting look-a-like logo mentioned in the article caught my attention: a logo for a defunct English supermarket chain called “Hillards” that had a similar H-arrow logo. (Pictured in the bottom right corner of the Hillards advertisement.)  The good news for Hillary’s campaign is that this look-a-like should not block nor create any issue with her new campaign logo.  This is because: Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 2.46.02 PM

  1. The supermarket trademark was not used in the United States. (Trademark rights are acquired by use of the trademark in a particular geographic region and can be registered in a specific country or countries.  Once registered, continued use of the trademark is required to maintain the registration); and
  2. The trademark does not appear to be “in use” any longer in any country due to a reportedly hostile takeover. (Trademark rights are sustained by actual use of the trademark to sell particular goods and/or services.  Failure to continuing using a trademark in commerce to sell particular goods and/or services “kills” a trademark).  Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.11.51 AM

Personally, I like Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign logo.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Basic facts about trademarks issued by the USPTO at http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/trademarks/basics/BasicFacts.pdf; more posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; The UK Intellectual Property Office with trademark search options at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Give me original British Cadbury or give me death Reply

Easter chocolates (and the Easter chocolate trademarks) are big business.  It’s estimated that 50 millionImageAgentProxy Cadbury Creme Eggs will be sold in the U.S. this year.  Who is selling the Cadbury Creme Eggs in the U.S. and how they taste on this side of the pond is at issue.  Evidently, Hershey owns the rights to make and sell Cadbury Creme Eggs (probably via an exclusive trademark licensing deal with Cadbury U.K.).  As per a recent PBS article, Hershey paid $300 million dollars for these trademark rights back in 1988 and has been enforcing the exclusive distribution rights to the dismay of British Cadbury loyalists.  Hershey’s enforcement has ruffled feathers of small shops that import and sell the British Cadbury chocolates.

Hershey’s position is that small shops (or shops of any size) should purchase the Cadbury Creme Eggs through them because they “own” the right to make and sell the chocolates here in the United States.  The British Cadbury loyalists who import and sell Cadbury made in the U.K. want to have their British Cadbury and eat it too!  It will be interesting to see how this dispute plays out.

The International Trademark Association provides a fact sheet on trademark licensing at: http://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/TrademarkLicensing.aspx

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Why some Cadbury-lovers are bitter that they can’t buy their favorite sweets at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/hershey/; more posts on exclusive trademark rights at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/trademark-exclusive/ @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

 

Dueling Noodle Trademarks: CHUBBY NOODLE vs FAT NOODLE Reply

CHUBBY NOODLE has challenged FAT NOODLE for using a trademark too similar to its own to sell noodles to folks in San Francisco.  Evaluating whether these two trademarks are “confusingly similar” will be key to the outcome of this lawsuit.  In trademark law, evaluating if two marks are “confusingly similar” is critical.  For example, will noodle-loving patrons be confused by the similarity of the CHUBBY NOODLE and FAT NOODLE trademarks (pictured below) and think these two separately-owned restaurants are related, affiliated or have the same owner?Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 5.17.44 PM

Curiously, do you think the two trademarks look so similar that you would assume the two restaurants are related?

Are the CHUBBY NOODLE and FAT NOODLE trademarks more or less “confusingly similar” to you than these registered trademarks for other noodle shops?

other noodle regIn the lawsuit filed by CHUBBY NOODLE they also claim that, since the words “CHUBBY” and “FAT” are synonyms consumers are more likely to be confused and think the restaurants are related.  It will be interesting to see how this duel between the noodle shops pans out.

A copy of the complete complaint filed by CHUBBY NOODLE against FAT NOODLE is available at: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/files/2015/01/11329862-0-48091.pdf

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: other blog posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Trademarks – What Types Of Trademarks Are There? Reply

For fun, here is a list of some types of trademarks.  Are there more types than you would have guessed?

  • Logo
  • Numbers
  • Slogan
  • Nickname or abbreviation
  • Internet domain
  • Words
  • Packaging
  • Character
  • Color
  • Distinctive Building Shape

The key to “being a trademark” is “being USED as a trademark.”  One way to explain this is to ask if the trademark is being used to identify and distinguish goods and services of a particular company or brand. For example, does the trademark enable consumers to identify the company that makes the goods?  Do you notice the trademark on the items or in advertising? Does the trademark distinguish the goods of one producer from the goods of competitors?

Here are examples of each of the types of trademarks listed above:

  • Logo: NIKE SWOOSH                                                                                          TM Types
  • Numbers: 1664   (Kronenbourg beer)
  • Slogan:  A DIAMOND IS FOREVER   (De Beers)
  • Nickname or abbreviation: VW   (Volkswagen)
  • Internet domain: GODADDY.COM
  • Words: GROUPON or APPLE
  • Packaging: COCA-COLA BOTTLE
  • Character: GEICO GECKO
  • Color: TIFFANY’S BLUE JEWELRY BOX
  • Distinctive Building Shape: APPLE STORE

See also: Another post containing instructions on “how to run a basic search on the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) trademark database” at http://wp.me/p10nNq-BMcCarthy on Trademarks Vol 1, Ch 7[B]; the USPTO website at www.uspto.gov, the trademarks listed above: NIKE SWOOSH (USPTO Reg. No. 2107521 and others); 1664 Kronenbourg (USPTO Reg. No. 2702301, 3282436 and others); A DIAMOND IS FOREVER (USPTO Reg. No. 337133); GODADDY.COM (USPTO Reg. No. 2945200, 3605479 and others); GROUPON (USPTO Reg. No. 3685954 and others); APPLE (USPTO Reg. No.4088195 and others); COCA-COLA bottle (USPTO Reg. No. 4200433 and others); GEICO GECKO (USPTO Reg. No. 3398021 and others); TIFFANY’S BLUE BOX (USPTO Reg. No. 2184128 and others); APPLE STORE (USPTO Reg. No.4021593); @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com