ACLU Supports the Washington Redskins Trademark

Although the team has decades of history, many people find the name of the Washington professional football team offensive. The Trademark Office sided with this opinion when it cancelled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration last summer. The Office cited federal trademark law’s prohibition on the registration of disparaging marks. In spite of this latest obstacle however, the Redskins are fighting this ruling tooth and nail, and they now have a new supporter in their corner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Did Macy’s Allow Their Trademark to Go Abandoned

A few decades ago there used to be a lot more variety in department stores. Robinson’s-May, Marshall Field’s, and Meier and Frank used to dot the commercial landscape. But when these stores, along with several others, were acquired by Macy’s in 2005 and subsequently rebranded with the Macy’s masthead and brand name, the overall diversity of department stores took a hit. Now, after several years of dormancy, an enterprising individual is attempting to bring back some of these nostalgic brands and commercially exploit them, selling merchandise bearing the names and logos of these brands on his website. Macy’s has responded by suing for trademark infringement, claiming it is still the owner of these brands, but by shelving them for years, has Macy’s abandoned its trademark registration rights?

Read the rest of this entry »

Sriracha Sauce Trademark Lessons

One of the most popular trends in the food industry over the last decade has been Sriracha. In case you still aren’t sure exactly what it is, Sriracha is a chili sauce made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It originated in Thailand and was brought to the United States by Thai immigrants. One of these immigrants, David Tran, began selling the sauce under his Huy Fong Foods brand, which uses a distinctive rooster as its logo. Tran sought trademark registration on his rooster logo, but never on the name Sriracha itself. Now, as the popularity of the sauce has exploded, major players are bringing their own Sriracha sauce to the market, leaving one to wonder if Tran missed out on a huge commercial opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

“Je Suis Charlie” Trademark Aftermath

Je Suis CharlieFollowing a growing trend of attempts to trademark social rallying cries, two trademark applications have been submitted on “Je Suis Charlie”. Je Suis Charlie was a common slogan of support at the rallies and in social media in reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. It quickly became an international statement of solidarity against violence and terrorism. Like other social movement slogans before it, trademark applications quickly followed its viral spread. But like those other slogans, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is unlikely to grant a trademark registration for Je Suis Charlie.

Read the rest of this entry »