It’s an interesting time for marijuana related businesses. At the state level, several states have given them a green light. On the federal level, however, the light is still very much red. In states where marijuana laws have been eased, entrepreneurs have been actively developing businesses around pot culture. But these entrepreneurs run into problems with federal trademark registration because the US Patent & Trademark Office is federally regulated. Trademark examiners have typically rejected marijuana related marks. However, one Colorado based web producer has passed the federal hurdle for his trademark application on Ganjagonia – a marijuana themed web cartoon, but now faces a more traditional trademark challenge from an actual company, as the outdoor retailer Patagonia is challenging his trademark application. Continue reading “Patagonia Challenges Trademark Application for Ganjagonia”
Few smells can transport someone back to childhood like the distinctive scent of opening a can of Play-Doh. The unique fragrance, in use since 1955, is a clear signal that you are about to play with the official Hasbro modeling clay. After more than 60 years of production, Hasbro is now taking steps to make sure that the scent remains a clear indication that you have official Play-Doh and not some other imitator. That’s why Hasbro recently filed for federal trademark protection on the Play-Doh smell.
Continue reading “Hasbro Seeking Trademark Protection on Distinctive Play-Doh Scent”
Adidas and Puma share a long and entangled history. In the late 1940s, the two companies were started by German brothers Adolf (Adi) Dassler and Rudolph Dassler after a family feud led the brothers to part ways. Adidas was registered on August 18, 1949 by Adi, following a family feud at the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik company between him and his older brother Rudolf. Rudolf established Puma before Adi established Adidas. The companies quickly became business rivals. To this day, the companies are still headquartered in the same German city of Herzogenaurach and continue as rivals. This familiar history is behind Adidas assertion in a recently filed a trademark infringement suit against Puma that the alleged trademark infringement shouldn’t be seen as innocent. Continue reading “Adidas and Puma Tangle over Use of Stripes on Soccer Cleats”
Kobe Bryant was an outstanding defender on the basketball court. Now, in his post-basketball business career, he’s looking to do some defending of his “Black Mamba” brand after someone else recently filed a trademark application on the name. With only a pending trademark application of his own at the US Patent & Trademark Office, Kobe is relying on common law trademark rights to oppose the new filing. Continue reading “Kobe Bryant Asserts Rights Against Black Mamba Trademark Application”
As additional states choose to ease laws on marijuana use for medicinal and recreational purposes, more and more Marijuana related business owners are cropping up. Marijuana dispensaries, along with brands peddling various marijuana strains, some backed by celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson, are going into business in states like California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. But going into the Marijuana business comes with all the challenges faced by traditional businesses, as well as some unique trademark related challenges.
In the past, China has had somewhat of a reputation for weak protection of intellectual property rights and a large market for counterfeit products. Prominent companies, including Donald Trump’s, have long dealt with Chinese imitators creating knock-offs and using deceptive trade practices. But now it seems that Trump’s election win may be helping his trademark case in China.
While President-Elect Donald Trump’s brand is already well established with many ventures, including real estate holdings, beauty competitions, and reality TV shows, his name and brand are now becoming known to nearly everyone on the planet as he ascends to the most powerful position in American government. This wide-spread recognition may be supporting Trump’s fight over parties who have looked to capitalize on his name in China. Continue reading “Trump Trademark Rights Get Trump Bump in China”
While Las Vegas has always been an alluring destination to base a pro sports franchise, owners have been reluctant to come to Sin City due to concerns over the ease with which gambling might influence outcomes. But that’s soon to change with the announcement that NHL hockey will be coming to Las Vegas. The team will begin play in 2017 and owners announced the team name as the Golden Knights, but whether that name will survive remains to be seen since the team recently received rejections to their trademark applications by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Wisely enough, the team filed several trademark applications for its intended name in August, but perhaps didn’t do a very thorough trademark search before filing. After filing for the name Golden Knights in the classes covering entertainment services and clothing, the USPTO rejected the applications based on a likelihood of confusion with several other golden knight related trademark registrations, including the primary citation to a trademark registration for “Golden Knights of the College of Saint Rose”, a private college in Albany New York.
The Saint Rose Golden Knights filed for trademark registration in 2004 and received trademark registration in 2006 in the classes covering entertainment services including sporting exhibitions and clothing, the same classes as the Vegas NHL franchise. The trademark examiner cited the similarity of classes and the marks as a reason for a likelihood of confusion between the two. You might wonder whether there really would be confusion though as several colleges and pro teams share the same mascot. A trademark registration carries a lot of weight however and holding a registration does give the owner a presumption of exclusive rights to use the mark in commerce throughout the nation for similar goods. So the Saint Rose Golden Knights can use their registration as a tool to prevent dilution as well infringement of its mark.
So now the Vegas based NHL team will either have to make an argument to the USPTO as to why there really isn’t a likelihood of confusion, use the name without trademark protection and hope that others won’t sue it for trademark infringement, or change the team name to something that has a better chance of receiving trademark protection. It is possible to use a brand name without federal trademark protection, as the Washington Redskins have been doing after their trademark rights were revoked by the USPTO, but without federal protection you lose out on several important rights. Another option would be to enter into a coexistence agreement of license with Saint Rose, if Saint Rose would be amenable to such an arrangement.
Sometimes it is worth filing a trademark application even if you are aware of challenges that the USPTO may throw at you, but it’s also a good idea to do a thorough search beforehand to make sure you are on good footing. But before committing to a trademark or filing a trademark application, it is always a good idea to seek the advice of competent trademark counsel so you are aware of your risks and can select the best strategy for your business.
Every so often a right’s dispute will leave the realm of the courtroom and spill out into our pop-culture. This is the current case with Marvel Movies and Fox Studios. Marvel, who originally created the X-men Story Line, sold the rights to Fox and now they want them back.
In 1996 Marvel was facing financial troubles. They sold the rights to several of their comic characters to different studios. Most notably was the sale of X-Men’s rights to Fox. The sale of the rights made Marvel financially stable, and launched Marvel into the movie- making business. Over the past years, Marvel has capitalized on their movies by creating some of the highest grossing comic book movies. Only DC’s reboot of the Batman franchise is comparable.
In spite of a few recent hiccups, Chipotle has done pretty well in the Mexican food market. Now, the Denver based company wants to expand its business to include a burger chain. The name and logo the group chose may be problematic though, as a Boston based burger chain says that the branding infringes on its trademark.
Whole Foods has marketed itself as a healthy and organic grocer and claims that it is “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store”. This branding effort has paid off as consumers tend to view the brand as a fresh alternative to big box grocery stores. But the Trademark Office recently put a damper on the grocery chain’s health hype when it rejected the company’s attempt to trademark “World’s Healthiest Grocery Store” because the mark is “self-laudatory” or a “puffing mark.”