Portland, Oregon based rock band “The Slants” isn’t planning to change its name anytime soon. It just wants the Trademark Office to recognize its chosen name and grant it a trademark registration. After determining that “The Slants” is a disparaging term and rejecting its application, the Trademark Office has stuck to its guns despite multiple attempts by the band to appeal the decision. The band now rests its hopes in a panel of federal appeals judges, hoping they will overrule the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. The question of whether free speech rights should trump trademark law’s prohibition on immoral, scandalous or disparaging marks will now go before this group. Continue reading “Federal Appeals Court to Review “The Slants” Trademark Application”
Daryl Hall and John Oates make beautiful music together. At least some people say that. Their last names also go together nicely to create an interesting phrase. People have played off the band’s name for decades, but when a cereal company began branding its granola as “Haulin’ Oats”, Hall and Oates decided they needed to put a stop to it and protect their brand name. But even though they have been known as Hall & Oates for years, they were forced to purchase a trademark registration to stop the cereal company. Continue reading “Why Hall & Oates Purchased a Trademark Registration for Oatmeal Cereal”
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.
New York is well known for many popular pizza restaurants. One restaurant in particular, New York Pizzeria, Inc. (NYPI), believes that what separates it from all the others is a distinctive taste that customers immediately recognize. According to NYPI, a unique blend of ingredients sourced from proprietary distributers creates its distinguishing flavor. And when its former president left to create a rival restaurant, Gina’s Italian Kitchen, NYPI noticed that Gina’s pizza tasted a little too familiar. That’s why NYPI filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Gina’s violated the Lanham Act by copying NYPI’s pizza flavor. But can a flavor be protected by a trademark registration? Continue reading “Judge Rules Pizza Flavor Cannot Be Trademarked”
If you have been on any type of social media in the last couple of months, you have undoubtedly seen or been called out for the “ice bucket challenge”. The rules of the challenge require a person challenged to either get doused with ice water and pay $10 to charity or refuse the ice shower and make a $100 charitable donation. Over the summer, the challenge became strongly associated with support for the disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). As the popularity of the challenge surged, the ALS Association considered whether a trademark application to protect the challenge was appropriate. After first deciding that the group should protect the mark, it has since reconsidered and withdrawn its trademark application.
Shortly after singer Beyoncé gave birth to daughter Blue Ivy Carter in January, the new mother and father, rapper Jay-Z, did something most parents never do. They filed a trademark application on the name of their child. When the parents are two of the most successful musicians on the planet, it seems that even the birth of their first child doesn’t slow down business. It may seem like a smart thing to do, because other people might try to beat them to the trademark office to potentially use the mark as leverage. For example, third parties might try to use the mark in ways that negatively affect their brand or try to sell the mark to them at an exorbitant price. News reports have come out suggesting that they have lost their battle over the trademark. (Click here to see Rolling Stone article.) While it’s true that Beyoncé and Jay-Z will not have have exclusive rights to use the term Blue Ivy, they haven’t lost their rights all together. The couple’s trademark application is still pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office and recently published for opposition. (Click here to see Notice of Publication from the USPTO.) So long as there is no one with senior rights to the same mark for the same or similar goods, their trademark registration application should survive the opposition period.