Trademark – in a stylized font Reply

A trademark or logo can include an original font.ImageAgentProxyFor example, COCA-COLA (in a stylized font) is a famous registered trademark that includes an original font. Note that the COCA-COLA Company has registered COCA-COLA as a trademark with and without the stylized font. There are legal advantages to having registrations for a word trademark with and without a stylized font.

  • An advantage to registering the COCA-COLA trademark with a stylized font is that copycat brands can be prevented from using the typeface in a trademark to sell goods and services.
  • An advantage to registering the COCA-COLA trademark without a stylized font is that the trademark owner is granted rights to protect the text element of the trademark in any font.  Another advantage to registering a trademark without a stylized font is that it grants a level of domain protection.

A key to including a font or stylized lettering in a trademark is originality of the font or stylized lettering.  In addition to originality, other factors to consider when assessing whether to apply for USPTO registration of a trademark in a specific font or stylized letter are:

  • How instrumental the font or stylized lettering is to the brand, andIMG_2903
  • How long the specific font or stylized lettering will be used.  Back to the example of COCA-COLA, the famous trademark in stylized script has been used by the company as a trademark since 1886. (U.S. Reg. No. 0022406).

By: Vanessa Kaster, Esq. LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Blog posts on use the TM & SM symbols on unregistered trademarks 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; @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

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.

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

 

One can love chicken & Bob Marley tunes (ONE LOVE trademark dispute settles) 2

The ONE LOVE trademark dispute between Bob Marley’s estate and Raising Cane’s tess picchicken finger restaurant raises some interesting trademark and copyright issues. According to Louisiana newspapers, the trademark dispute recently settled on undisclosed terms; however, the issue at the heart of the dispute is interesting.

THE ISSUE: Trademarking someone else’s song title for restaurant services.

THE STORY: In 2005, Raising Cane’s chicken finger restaurant obtained a USPTO registered trademark for ONE LOVE to be used to sell “restaurant services” (Reg. No. 3033511).  This same phrase ONE LOVE is part of the title and refrain to the famous Bob Marley tune, “One Love/People Get Ready,” recorded with his band The Wailers.  In 2007, Marley’s estate (represented by Fifty-Six Hope Road Music) applied for a USPTO trademark registration for ONE LOVE for “hotel, bar, and restaurant services” but was refused trademark registration because of the pre-existing ONE LOVE trademark registered to Raising Cane’s for similar services.  (A likelihood-of-confusion refusal).  The dispute escalated, the courts became involved and evidently the parties recently settled on undisclosed terms.

THE SCOOP: As demonstrated by this series of events, the title of a song will not necessarily block or cancel a USPTO trademark application or registration.  Songs and original music are protected by copyright laws; however, copyright protection does not extend to short phrases and titles.  The USPTO trademark registration system is available for protecting short phrases.  Timing of a USPTO application is also a determinative factor.  For example, if Bob Marley’s estate had applied for a ONE LOVE trademark to be used with restaurant and related services BEFORE Raising Cane’s applied for it, then the outcome would likely be reversed and Marley’s estate would have blocked Raising Cane’s trademark application.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: “One Love” dispute transfer order at http://www.scribd.com/doc/206584538/One-Love-dispute-transfer-order; an earlier blog post: Title Copycats; News articles: Raising Cane’s, Bob Marley estate reach agreement by Joe Gyan Jr, Bob Marley’s estate’s legal saga over Raising Cane’s ‘One Love’ to play out in Louisiana by Emily Lane on 2/11/14, and Raising Cane’s, Bob Marley’s estate settle ‘One Love’ slogan dispute by Diana Samuels on 5/23/14; the USPTO trademark search at http://www.uspto.gov/ @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Maasai Trademark – Maasai tribe wants control over commercial uses of its name 2

The Maasai tribe in Tanzania has a unique identity, name and culture that various companies use to sell products.maasai  For example, Diane von Furstenberg sold pillows and necklaces using the Maasai name and Jaguar Land Rover sold a limited-edition vehicle named after the tribe.  Presently, the Maasai tribe is seeking control over commercial uses of its name.   Seems fair for the Maasai tribe to share in the profits earned by folks using their name, especially, since the Massai name is used to invoke the integrity, sensibility and style of the tribe members.

Personally, I find the arguments against granting the Maasai tribe ownership rights, trademark rights, and licensing rights to their name offensive.

CLAIM 1 AGAINST THE MAASAI OWNING THEIR NAME: because the tribe has never made an effort to enforce ownership of its culture and name until now, the rights have been lost.

COUNTER THIS CLAIM: To me, this is a rather colonial, imperialistic view of rights and ownership; however, tribes and indigenous people all over the world continually fight against this claim.  In an effort to set a global standard for respecting indigenous peoples’ rights in their names, culture, trademarks, traditional knowledge and other intellectual property, the UN has adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  It may take a high profile challenge by the Maasai to raise international awareness regarding the rights of tribes and indigenous people to their name, trademarks, customs, traditional knowledge and other intellectual property.

CLAIM 2 AGAINST THE MAASAI OWNING THEIR NAME: “It’s a nice idea, but if it would work, the French deficit would be gone by asking for royalties on French Fries.”

COUNTER TO THIS CLAIM:  A more accurate comparison than the french fry comment (which I don’t believe the French have ever claimed and may not even want) is the French zeal and persistence in successfully laying claims to and defending the right to use the word CHAMPAGNE as a regional indicator of bubbly wine from the Champagne region of France.

Evidently, the Maasai have launched a campaign to reclaim their name, traditional knowledge and other intellectual property so that they can share in the profits made off their name and likeness.  (They also have an attorney and a USPTO grant for support).

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, The United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf; WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/tk/en/wipo_grtkf_ic_26/wipo_grtkf_ic_26_inf_8.pdf;  article by Stephan Faris in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine titled, For Years, Companies Have Been Making Millions Off The Maasai Name, Now The Tribe Wants Its Cut; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

“DUMB STARBUCKS” – a fake parody Reply

Did you hear that a “DUMB STARBUCKS COFFEE” shop opened in California recently?  (AND this fake Dumb-Starbucks-Logoparody was a comedian’s publicity stunt)(AND the shop has already been shut down by the LA County health inspectors)?  In addition to branding the pop-up cafe with a mocked-up Starbucks logo that added the word “dumb” into the logo, the cafe also featured a virtually identical menu to Starbucks and added the word “dumb” onto the menu boards.  (For example selling “Dumb Iced Espresso” in a “Dumb Tall” size cup).

How was this permissible?  Short answer, it wasn’t.  Parody was being claimed although this was not a parody.  Folks often think that just because something is FUNNY it is legally a PARODY.  This is a not the case.  FUNNY ≠ PARODY.  Because this is such a common assumption it’s worthwhile to mention it again (and again, and again).  For a terrific analysis of the DUMB STARBUCKS parody claim see on my friend Ron’s blog www.likelihoodofconfusion.com (post written by Matthew David Brozik).

Not surprisingly, a spokeswoman for Starbucks Coffee said that despite the humor, the store cannot use the Starbucks name.

A few other interesting elements raised by this DUMB STARBUCKS parody claim:

  • Dumb Starbucks made a claim that their parody was similar to Weird Al Yankovic’s music.  However, they left out a critical detail – permission.  Weird Al Yankovic ALWAYS gets permission for his music.
  • The fact that the shop was closed down by county health inspectors is an interesting detail in this Dumb saga.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for various local inspection agencies to become involved when counterfeit merchandise is being sold (technically, the Dumb Starbucks scheme was a misappropriation of the Starbucks brand akin to counterfeiting).  If a trademark-infringing business is violating health or building codes in addition to selling counterfeit products, nipping them in the bud for applicable health or building code violations can quickly close the doors.  Hence this was the case with the Dumb Starbucks shop being shut down by health inspectors.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, TMEP on trademark parody section 1207.01(b)(x) at http://tmep.uspto.gov/RDMS/detail/manual/TMEP/Oct2012/TMEP-1200d1e5036.xml; another blog post on parody; for other blogs posts on trademarks; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Trademarks as Membership Marks – Hells Angels, Fresno Bulldogs Reply

Trademarks are often used as membership insignia for various organizations, groups and fans… like the Hells Angels and the Fresno State Bulldogs football team.  In fact, one of the primary reasons why a trademark registration is so valuable is because it can create a clear link between brands and their members and fans.  Members and fans generally want to be associated with brands and will wear merchandise bearing their favorite brands.  (The exclusive rights granted to an owner of a trademark registered with the USPTO helps make this happen.  By granting an owner exclusive rights to use a trademark on particular goods or services, then it’s easier to avoid customer confusion as to the source of the goods and services. This in turn often strengthens brands by increasing brand awareness and public recognition).

Using trademarks as Membership Marks can raise some interesting situations regarding trademark use and infringement.  Here are two interesting situations raised by membership marks that are registered USPTO trademarks:

  • Hells Angels, Example #1: The Hells Angels motorcycle club owns registered USPTO Reg No. 1136494  trademarks which are valuable membership insignia and the Hells Angels, like all trademark owners, have the right to pursue folks and businesses who use their trademarks without permission (ie trademark infringers).  In a recent NY Times article, the trademark attorney for the Hells Angels addressed the issue of pursuing trademark infringers by stating that, “[t]he intent is not just to punish the infringers but to educate the public that the Hells Angels marques are well guarded and not generic and that they must not be infringed upon.”  This statement relates to a strategy for dealing with other folks or businesses who use the Hells Angels trademarks without permission or who use confusingly similar trademarks.
  • Fresno State Bulldogs, Example #2: Fresno State University in California owns registered trademarks featuring their bulldog mascot.  Wearing merchandise produced by the University featuring the bulldog mascot and team name displays allegiance to the team – ie “fan membership insignia.”  A recent NY Times arUSPTO Serial No. 86050169ticle reported that it’s not only wholesome football fans who are flocking to buy and wear jerseys, shirts, hats and other merchandise produced and sold by the University bearing the registered bulldog trademark… but that a violent street gang has also adopted the Fresno State Bulldogs trademark and apparel as a gang symbol.  Evidently, the gang is purchasing and using legitimate University shirts, jerseys and other merchandise bearing the registered Bulldogs trademark as a gang symbol indicating gang membership.  Buying legitimate University merchandise is obviously not trademark infringement; although, it will be interesting to see how the University develops a strategy for dealing with upholding its brand image.  Unfortunately, the University’s registered trademark is now playing a double “membership” role… indicating two drastically different types of membership.

These two situations highlight two vastly different circumstances involving membership marks that are registered USPTO trademarks.  Reading NY Times articles on both situations described above that were printed only 20 days apart inspired this blog post on trademarks that are used as membership insignia.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, USPTO Registration 1136494 for one of the Hells Angels’ trademark registrations; USPTO Serial Number 86050169 for one of Fresno State’s trademark applications;  Pride and Peril of a Logo, published in the NY Times on 11/9/13 by M. Wollan and Despite Outlaw Image, Hells Angels Sue Often, published in the NY Times on 11/29/13 by S.E. Kovaleski, and the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) which is a tool for searching the USPTO’s database of registered trademarks and prior pending applications at http://tess2.uspto.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.