Category: US Trademark

Kroger Trademark Dispute

Trademark War: US Supermarket Giant Challenges Formidable European Newcomer

Kroger is a grocery store super giant. Operating around 2,800 stores nationally, it is America’s largest grocery store chain. Its stores generated $115.3 billion in total sales in 2016 with approximately $20 billion in sales coming from its in-house brand “Private Selection”. That’s a lot of dough. So when European grocery giant Lidl began opening stores in the US and using its in-house brand “Preferred Selection”, Kroger quickly took action to protect its hard-won turf by filing a trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit, claiming that Preferred Selection is likely to cause confusion among consumers and dilutes the value of Kroger’s registered trademarks.
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SCOTUS Rules in Favor of THE SLANTS Trademark

In a landmark trademark law ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Matal v. Tam that the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause is facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause. This case will have significant implications for other case, such as the series of cases addressing the registrability of the mark REDSKINS for an NFL football team. At issue in Matal v. Tam was application of 15 U. S. C. §1052(a) to Simon Tam’s application for registration of the mark THE SLANTS for “entertainment in the nature of live performances by a musical band.” Section 1052(a), also known as the disparagement clause, provides in relevant part that a trademark may not be registered if it: Continue reading “SCOTUS Rules in Favor of THE SLANTS Trademark”

Dell EMC’s Confidential Use of Brand Name Not Enough to Secure Trademark Rights

The intricacies of trademark law at the intersection of where trademark rights arise under common law and where trademark rights are secured through federal registration can lead to some interesting water cooler conversations – at least for trademark attorneys. Trademark rights under common law arise primarily through the use of a mark in commerce in connection with goods or services. Trademark rights and legal presumptions secured through trademark registration are generally given a priority date, once secured, as of the date the trademark registration application was filed. However, common law trademark rights arising prior to registration of a mark can prevail over the registration so long as they are also prior to common law rights of the mark secured by the registration. Starting to sound a little complicated? Continue reading “Dell EMC’s Confidential Use of Brand Name Not Enough to Secure Trademark Rights”

Havana Club Trademark

Florida Lawmakers Hoping Trump Will Help with Havana Club Trademark Dispute

As President Obama attempted to normalize relations with Cuba toward the end of his presidency, a byproduct was the renewal of a contested trademark registration on Havana Club by Cubaexport, an agency of the Cuban government. Florida lawmakers are now hoping that a more US-centric Trump administration can help them roll this back.
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Guitarist playing an electric guitar. Shallow depth of field. Grunge filter.

Federal Appeals Court to Review “The Slants” 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”

4 Stripes you’re out! Adidas Sues Designer Marc Jacobs

Adidas has been around for a long time and spent a lot of money promoting its 3 stripe logo. Part of its strategy to protect its brand includes trademark registration. The German company owns numerous U.S. trademark registrations on the various incarnations of its brand. So when fashion designer Marc Jacobs recently released a line of clothing that included 4 stripes down the sleeve, Adidas’ trademark attorneys quickly went into action, filing a trademark infringement lawsuit in Oregon federal court.
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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?

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ALS Association Files and Withdraws Trademark Application for “Ice Bucket Challenge”

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.

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No “Zilla” Confusion: Zillow Loses Opposition to LoanZilla Trademark Application

The online real estate database Zillow flexed its muscle recently with the announcement that it will acquire its competitor Trulia for $3.5 billion, giving it about 61% of total home listing internet searches. With such power Zillow is established as a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for Zillow, its might doesn’t hold much influence over the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which recently rejected Zillow’s opposition to LoanZilla’s trademark application. The Office determined that there is no likelihood of confusion between Zillow’s registered trademark and the LoanZilla mark that LoanZilla applied to register.

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Can Washington Redskins Keep Their US Trademark?

US Trademark

There’s another sports related US trademark issue that continues in the news.  This time it revolves around the NFL’s Washington Redskins.  The Redskins have been so named since 1933, but if a group of Native Americans are successful in their legal challenge, the Redskins may have to be the Redskins without the benefit of a United States trademark registration.  (Click here to see related Washington Post article.)

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