Trademarks

Whose Name Is It Anyway?

By: Darius L. Lamonte *| Guest Writer

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People register trademarks in order to acquire exclusive rights over the use of something in commerce. These exclusive rights are acquired to prevent the unfair use of the trademarked item and sometimes to preserve a reputation from being tarnished by others. While trademark rights can also be acquired over signature items, they are most often acquired over logos, brand names (i.e. McDonalds), and even personal names. It is fascinating that something bestowed upon you for free could one day be used to generate millions of dollars. This is the case for personal names. Having trademark rights over your own name almost seems like it should be a birthright. However, there are even more stringent regulations over trademarking personal names. The use of personal names to identify and market goods and services has brought fortune to many, including some of our favorite celebrities. Because of the fortune that could come from the trademark rights of a personal name, there is often much dispute over the ownership of these rights.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan’s positive reputation around the world has made his name a heavily-sought after commodity. As a result, Jordan has given permission to several brands to use his name to market their products. Jordan obtains royalties just from his name being attached to shoes, shirts, and several other products. “Nothing is more important than protecting your own name,” Michael Jordan stated, after winning a dispute overseas regarding his trademarked name.  A Chinese company, Qiaodan Sports, was selling and marketing shoes and other clothing items under the name “Qiaodan,” which translates to “Jordan” in Mandarin. The historically visitor-unfriendly court in China declared that Jordan did indeed own the Mandarin transliteration of his name.

Continue reading »

A Dispute over Master Tapes Ends in the Beatles’ Favor

By: Niti Parthasarathy*| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/beatles-famous-people-band-1295244/

On July 26, a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Sid Bernstein Presents, LLC, which represented Sid Bernstein, a late businessman and promoter. Bernstein promoted the Beatles’ 1965 show at Shea Stadium and produced the original 1966 film that used footage from the concert. Apple Corps Ltd., the band’s company, and Subafilms, acquired the rights to the footage through a contractual agreement with Bernstein. Though Sid Bernstein Presents noted the deal when filing the lawsuit, the company claimed that the rights to the master tapes remained with Bernstein and also claimed sole ownership over the footage. The sole ownership claim arose from Bernstein’s role as producer of the original film, and plaintiffs claimed that Apple Corps Ltd. infringed on Bernstein’s copyright when the footage was used in the 2016 documentary “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.”

Continue reading »

Rock Band Disrupts Intellectual Property Law

By: Andrew Homer *| Guest Writer

By This image or media was taken or created by Matt H. Wade. To see his entire portfolio, click here. @thatmattwade     This image is protected by copyright! If you would like to use it, please read this first. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By This image or media was taken or created by Matt H. Wade. To see his entire portfolio, click here. @thatmattwade This image is protected by copyright! If you would like to use it, please read this first. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) cannot deny the registration of a trademark because some may find the mark disparaging or offensive. The case that led to the ruling, Matal v. Tam, upended a 70-year-old tradition of federal trademark law found in 15 U.S.C. §1052 (a) and commonly named the disparagement clause. The Court holding that the disparagement clause is unconstitutional will have broad reaching effects to other aspects of intellectual property law and the nature of the corporation.

Continue reading »

Coachella Sues Urban Outfitters for Trademark Infringement

By: Maria Pigna*| Staff Writer 

https://pixabay.com/en/coachella-ferris-wheel-big-wheel-1083735/

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, commonly known as Coachella, is a three-day event known for its musical performances of top artists, delicious food, world-class art, and its celebrated commitment to sustainability. Aside from the global attention this event receives every year, it has given itself another reason to make headlines. Coachella filed a trademark lawsuit against Urban Outfitters in the U.S. Central District Court of California on March 14, 2017.

Continue reading »

Pirate Joe’s Days on the High Seas May Be Numbered

By: Libby Casale*| Staff Writer

http://www.traderjoes.com/images/announcement/768-Orlando-Dr-Phillips-Store-Front.jpg

Trader Joe’s in Orlando, Florida

Trader Joe’s first opened in 1967 in Southern California. Trader Joe’s seeks to embody a farmer’s market style feel, with unique and exclusive products. There are Trader Joe’s stores in forty-one states and Washington, D.C. There are no Trader Joe’s stores in Canada.

Pirate Joe’s is a Canadian grocery store that sells Trader Joe’s goods. The goods are purchased at Trader Joe’s in America and then moved across the border to Vancouver. The goods are sold at a 30-40% markup. Pirate Joe’s also imports other brands that Canadians do not have access to. Continue reading »

The Intellectual Property Behind “Real Women” Advertising

By: Dana Sisk*| Staff Writer 

https://americaneagleoutfitters.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/aerierealpoem.jpg?w=672&h=672

From blog.ae.com

During the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of companies that feature untouched images of “average sized” women, rather than the highly edited images of tall and slender supermodels.  This movement toward promoting body positivity and positive body image in young women has garnered a lot of praise throughout the advertising and modeling world, and more and more companies are jumping on board. Continue reading »

Coca-Cola versus Dr. Pepper: Cola War Over “Zero” Trademark

By: Amanda Whorton* | Guest Writer 

Photo by woolenniumAfter over a decade of litigation, Coca-Cola has had “zero” luck gaining a trademark for the term “zero” in connection with its beverage brands.  In 2005, Coke filed a U.S. trademark registration for the mark “zero” in connection with their popular “Coca-Cola Zero” soda brand, which Dr. Pepper challenged in 2007.  Arguments ended in December 2015 and a ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may come as soon as this spring. Continue reading »

Who Claims the Real 12th Man?

By: Tyler Hood* | Staff Writer

Photo by Kipp Jones

Football is serious business at Texas A&M University, which recently expanded its stadium, Kyle Field, to a capacity of 102,512. This expansion made Kyle Field the largest in the SEC. Football at A&M is also big money; the expansion in capacity came at a cost of roughly $485 million. Students at A&M (as well as alumni) take football very seriously as well, and are known for their love of traditions. One of the oldest, and perhaps best known tradition is that of the Twelfth Man. The Twelfth Man tradition originates in 1922, when E. King Gill left the stands and suited up, ready to help the shorthanded Aggies should the need arise. Now, the entire student body is the Twelfth Man, standing by to aid the team whenever and however it may be needed. Kyle Field is the “Home of the 12th Man,” and Texas A&M holds a trademark on the phrase and as well as trademarks on a few variations. Regardless of the apparently common usage of “12th Man” in football, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Texas A&M owns the expression. The word mark “12TH MAN” was first obtained in 1989 and remains current.

Continue reading »

Chubby Checker Gets “Twisted” Over Cufflinks

By: Alexandra Braverman* | Staff Writer 

The famous musician known for recording “The Twist,” Ernest Evans, aka “Chubby Checker,” brought suit against major retailers Nordstrom, Inc., Amazon, Inc., Macys, Inc., Squire Fine Men’s Apparel LLC, and Würkin Stiffs over a recently released line of cufflinks bearing the Chubby Checker trademark.  The complaint, filed in Florida federal court, included claims of federal trademark dilution and infringement, federal unfair competition, and false endorsement.  According to Mr. Evans, the cufflink manufacturer – Wurkin’ Stiffs – manufactured and marketed the cufflinks with the Chubby Checker name without obtaining consent from Mr. Evans or his related entities.  In light of the use, Mr. Evans seeks injunctive relief, treble damages, and punitive damages to the tune of 8-figures, according to Mr. Evans’s lawyer. 

Continue reading »

Snack Subscription Services, Thinking Inside the Box?

By: Alexandra Braverman* | Staff Writer

Subscription snack and food box businesses are popping up everywhere, hoping to cash in on America’s insatiable appetite for novelty, convenience and munchies.” – The New York Times 

Fancy Food Box Subscription

Fancy Food Box Subscription

Since the introduction of Birchbox in 2010, the demand for specialized goods via subscription has boomed.  With the option of having personalized boxes delivered monthly, customers are now choosing to buy beauty products, clothes, and food through online subscriptions.  According to the New York Times, the competition among the subscription snack market is particularly fierce.  Entrepreneurs have exploded into every corner of the food box market, introducing variations on the original box that feature regional, organic, portion-controlled, and novelty-themed options. Continue reading »