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”
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.”
After several hundred protestors turned out in Park City, Utah to fight Vail Resorts attempt to register the trademark “Park City”, the business group has decided to abandon its trademark application. This is a change of course for the Colorado based ski resort ownership, which had been pursuing trademark protection on its recently acquired Utah asset, Park City Mountain Resort. Local residents are now relieved to know that the name of the town will not be trademarked and local businesses will have less concern over branding conflicts.
Continue reading “Locals Protest Park City Trademark Application”
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”
Perhaps more than any other movie or movie series in history, the Star Wars franchise has heavily influenced popular culture. Several generations have grown up with the characters and new generations will continue to do so as new movies are planned for release. That is why it is not too surprising that a brewery in upstate New York named Empire, chose to call one of its beers “Strikes Bock”. Empire Strikes Bock is a clever name for a beer, but after Empire filed a trademark application on the name, it drew the ire of Lucasfilm. The Star Wars Studio recently filed an opposition to the trademark application alleging permitting registration of the mark for ale will create a likelihood of confusion and will dilute Lucasfilm’s trademark rights in it’s THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK mark.
Slumping sales have McDonald’s searching for something new and its recent trademark application may reveal what it has in store. In July, McDonald’s filed a trademark application on McBrunch. But does this mean we can count on an 11 AM menu? The fast food giant is playing coy. When asked about its plans for the mark, the company stated it routinely files “intent-to-use” trademark applications and sometimes moves forward with them and sometimes it doesn’t. So that leaves us with a resounding maybe.
Chicago native, Derrick Rose, has an endorsement deal with Adidas worth $250 million over 14 years. That’s why the recent rejection of Adidas’ trademark application for their brand name Adizero is so interesting. It turns out that Adidas’ trademark application was rejected based on a likelihood of confusion with a registered trademark of a small Chicago area church. The trademark attorney for the church is asking Rose to side with the church in the dispute despite his affiliation with Adidas. This conflict of interest puts Rose in a tough situation.
You may have read our earlier blog post about Apple’s trademark troubles in Brazil. In Brazil, a company called Gradiente beat Apple to the Brazilian trademark office and registered the name iPhone long before Apple released their mega-hit mobile phone. Because Gradiente was the first to obtain a trademark registration, they are entitled to exclude Apple from using the “iphone” mark in Brazil. Since we last wrote about this story, Apple has been able to bring its considerable resources to bear and the two companies are currently in negotiations over a deal that would allow Apple to use the brand in Brazil. But just when Apple appears to be resolving that problem, a new issue has emerged for Apple’s trademark attorneys in Latin America.
Apple Inc.’s trademark attorneys must be working overtime. In the last few months we’ve seen Apple involved in trademark issues in China, Brazil, Mexico and now at home in the United States. The most recent issue stems from Apple’s trademark application for the iPad Mini, the baby brother to the ubiquitous iPad. Apple was previously able to secure a trademark registration on iPad, but recently an examining attorney at the United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple’s attempt to register IPAD MINI.
Trademark lawyers can be pretty creative and Sony’s recent trademark infringement suit against Bridgestone Tires is a great example. Sony is suing Bridgestone for among other things, trademark infringement. The basis for the lawsuit is Bridgestone’s use of the same actor in one of their ads that Sony had previously used in their PlayStation 3 marketing campaign. Sony says that Bridgestone improperly infringed upon their “trademark” character “Kevin Butler”. Sony did not register a trademark for the Kevin Butler character and has not even filed a trademark application for Butler. Sony recently settled its claims against the actor that played Kevin Butler, but the lawsuit with Bridgestone continues.