Category Archives: Trademarks and Trade Dress

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Supreme Court Sides with Booking.com – Generic.com Trademarks Not Necessarily Generic

On June 30, the Supreme Court issued an 8-1 holding in U.S. Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., finding that whether a “GENERIC.COM” mark qualifies for trademark protection depends on its ability to act as a source identifier to consumers. In other words, a “GENERIC.COM” mark may or may not actually be generic. Adding … Continue Reading

3M Takes Action to Protect Its Brand from Price Gouging And Trademark Infringement

At the beginning of April, 3M, the nation’s largest producer of the now infamous N95 mask, filed two lawsuits against companies it claimed were confusing and deceiving buyers by falsely associating 3M with the defendants and re-selling its N95 masks at “grossly inflated”[1] prices. Such behavior, according to 3M, violates federal trademark law. The lawsuits, … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Profits Available Even from Non-Willful Trademark Infringers

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held today (April 23, 2020) that a brand owner is not required to prove a defendant’s trademark infringement was willful as a precondition to an award of the defendant’s profits. The Court’s decision – Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group, Inc.[1] – vacated the decision of the Federal Circuit, which … Continue Reading

The Federal Circuit Reconsiders the Inherent Distinctiveness of Color Marks in In re Forney

On April 8, 2020, in In re: Forney Industries, Inc.,[1] the Federal Circuit reversed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s finding that a color mark can never be inherently distinctive.  By so holding, the Federal Circuit controverts what had become conventional wisdom since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Prod. Co., 514 … Continue Reading

USPTO Permitting Trademark Applicants to Extend Certain Deadlines Due to COVID-19

On March 31, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is permitting trademark applicants to request extensions of the time allowed to file certain documents and to pay certain fees due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency in the United States.  USPTO director Andrei Iancu has exercised temporary authority granted to him … Continue Reading

Congress Gives Patent and Trademark Office Temporary Authorization to Move Deadlines in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law.  The CARES Act is a $2 trillion economic stimulus and rescue package designed to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, which has resulted in a level of societal and … Continue Reading

California’s Fair Pay to Play Act: This is Only The First Quarter

We previously wrote about California Senate Bill 206, the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” back in April, and now Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed that bill into law.[1] The law becomes effective on January 1, 2023. After numerous revisions to the bill since our last post, here is a quick look at the final product. … Continue Reading

The U.S. Trademark Office Opens The Door to Registering Certain Cannabis Trademarks

On May 2, 2019, the United States Trademark Office issued new Examination Guidelines for goods and services associated with cannabis and cannabis-derived products and services legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.[1] This crack in the federal armor against the cannabis economy opens the door for the federal registration of trademark rights and is an important … Continue Reading

Cesari S.R.L. v. Peju Province Winery L.P.: Relying on Supreme Court Precedent, District Court Holds that Trademark Trial & Appeal Board Finding of Likelihood of Confusion has Preclusive Effect

Federal district courts continue to apply the Supreme Court’s ruling in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., Inc., 135 S.Ct. (2015) with unpredictable results. The latest such example comes from the Southern District of New York, where Judge Buchman, in reliance on B&B Hardware, precluded the defendant from contesting likelihood of confusion. Cesari S.R.L. v. … Continue Reading

Consumers Are Unlikely to Confuse Yelp with a Local Property Management Company Using the Same Tagline in Ads, Court Rules

In a ruling that neatly illustrates some of the challenges a company is likely to face when trying to enforce trademark rights in an advertising tagline, a federal judge in the Northern District of California recently denied a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin Yelp’s use of a trademarked tagline.… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Retires Fee-Award Standard, Imports Octane Fitness to Trademark Cases

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit joined a majority of appellate courts that have rejected rigid tests for attorneys’-fees awards in favor of flexible discretion at the district court level.  The Ninth Circuit’s pre-Octane Fitness rulings provided a safe-harbor for litigants: fees were only to be awarded in instances of … Continue Reading

Lee v Tam

The Supreme Court agreed on September 29 to consider whether a provision of the Lanham Act that allows the USPTO to refuse to register “disparaging” trademarks violates the constitutional right to free speech.  The case is Lee v. Tam (Docket No. 15-1293).… Continue Reading

Parent Company Furnishes Cancellation of Subsidiary’s Trademark Registration

Does your company’s wholly-owned subsidiary own trademarks in its own name?  Has your company acquired any companies that own trademarks?  If so, your company’s use of those trademarks will not prevent cancellation of those trademark registrations unless you have proper trademark license agreements in place.  This is exactly what happened to Floorco Enterprises, LLC’s NOBLE … Continue Reading

TTAB Precedential Decision: Time Limit for Adding Claims Is Tolled by Filing of Cancellation Within Registration’s Fifth Anniversary

In a precedential decision, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) held that the filing of a cancellation petition before the five-year anniversary mark of a registration tolls Trademark Act Section 14 for purposes of adding claims to a proceeding. Ashland Licensing & Intellectual Property LLC v. Sunpoint International Group USA Corp., Cancellation No. 92057294, … Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Affirms Refusal to Register “Churrascos” Based on Genericness, Despite Prior Federal Registration of the Mark

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s refusal to register the stylized mark CHURRASCOS for bar and restaurant services based on genericness.  In re Cordua Restaurants, Inc., 2016 WL 2786364 (Fed. Cir. May 13, 2016). The Board refused registration of the stylized version of the mark … Continue Reading

T.T.A.B. Emphasizes the Fame of the Movie ‘Jaws’ in Its Refusal to Register a Cooking Show’s Mark

On March 16, 2016, the TTAB affirmed the refusals of an applicant’s mark, JAWS DEVOUR YOUR HUNGER, for online streaming cooking shows, holding that it is confusingly similar to the registered mark from the movie JAWS. Though the Board will rarely consider the fame of a mark in its du Pont analysis, the fame of … Continue Reading

Summary of Recent Precedential Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Decisions

From June through August 2015, the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board issued eleven precedential decisions.  Over the course of the upcoming weeks, we are briefly summarizing each opinion and a “take away” for brand owners and practitioners.  We continue our series with summaries of UVeritech, Inc. v. Amax Lighting, Inc. and In re Driven Innovations, … Continue Reading

Summary of Recent Precedential Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Decisions

From June through August 2015, the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board issued eleven precedential decisions. Over the course of the upcoming weeks, we will briefly summarize each opinion and a “take away” for brand owners and practitioner. We begin with the first two opinions (in chronological order): The Board of Trustees of The University of … Continue Reading

B&B Hardware v. Hargis – U.S. Supreme Court Declares TTAB Findings Can Have Preclusive Effect on Subsequent Federal Court Decisions

On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its second decision in substantive trademark law in nearly a decade.  B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., Inc., No. 13-352, slip op., 575 U.S. __ (2015).  Sheppard Mullin argued on behalf of the prevailing respondent in the first case, Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Update – Hana Financial v. Hana Bank

Sheppard Mullin’s intellectual property group prevailed before the United States Supreme Court in the trademark matter entitled Hana Financial v. Hana Bank.  574 U.S. ___ (2015).  Justice Sotomayor, writing for a unanimous court, affirmed a Ninth Circuit ruling that the doctrine of trademark tacking presents a question of fact appropriate for jury determination.  735 F.3d … Continue Reading

Intent To Use – It’s Not The Thought That Counts

Bona fide intent, the sine qua non of non-use trademark applications, was given new meaning by the TTAB in a decision released unpublished February 21, 2014 but redesignated as precedent on March 26, 2014, thus placing at risk similar applications for oppositions and issued registrations for cancellation.  The decision, Lincoln National Corporation v. Anderson, Consolidated … Continue Reading
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