trademark wars

Chanel vs. Chanel: Coco's Brand Steps Off the Runway and Into the Courtroom

Posted by Courtney Cantor on September 4, 2014 04:04 PM

Chanel is ubiquitous—on the runway each fashion week, in its boutiques lining Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive, and now in the courtroom as it seeks to uphold its trademark rights against a little-known salon and spa in Indiana. Merrillville, Indiana, to be precise.

According to papers filed in the US District Court in Hammond, Indiana, Chanel Inc. has filed a trademark infringement action against Chanel’s Salon, arguing that the salon is benefiting from an association with the chi-chi brand’s reputation. The brand also claims it has sent cease and desist letters that have been ignored.

The fame of the Chanel trademark is hardly disputable, a factor weighing in the luxury brand’s favor. When the average consumer thinks of Chanel, images of that expensive interlocking C logo are likely to come to mind. The strength of the Chanel trademark is only one factor, however, that the court would consider in deciding whether the salon’s use is confusing to the public and therefore infringing on the brand’s rights.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Trademark Watch: Ice Bucket Challenge, Hershey, High Times and more

Posted by Courtney Cantor on August 29, 2014 08:04 PM

Since the end of July, the ALS Association, which fights Lou Gehrig’s disease through research, care and education, has raised over $100 million thanks to the viral Ice Bucket Challenge. Now it seeks to use that money, in part, to trademark the phrase “Ice Bucket Challenge” in connection with charitable fundraising.

In deciding whether ALS’s application for trademark registration will be successful, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will take into consideration the Ice Bucket Challenge in light of how consumers view it. Although the association between ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge is as clear as the water in the bucket, others have also begun to use the phrase to create awareness for different causes. For example, Matt Damon used the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote his clean water organization, Water.org, and several other "challenges" for charitable causes have popped up over the last month. 

Some argue that the USPTO should not allow the ALS Association to register the mark because it will prevent other charities from raising money by using the Ice Bucket Challenge. However, even if the association is granted trademark rights, charities should not get cold feet. After all, there are plenty of creative ways to get around this by still taking inspiration from the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Warm Water Challenge, anyone?Continue reading...

trademark wars

Trademark Watch: Coinye Gets Caught, Seattle's 12, Washington ____ and more

Posted by Nicole Briggs on August 22, 2014 07:14 PM

From the lyrics of Yeezus himself, “Oh when it all, it all falls down, I’m telling you all, it all falls down," and earlier this week it all fell down for the virtual currency Coinye in Kanye West’s triumphant trademark-infringement lawsuit.

Back in January, the famous rapper sued websites involving the operators of Coinye, the logo for a web-based currency. Coinye featured a cartoon likeness of Kanye West, in half-man, half-fish form, wearing West's signature shutter sunglasses.

On Wednesday, West won a default judgment against the operators of Coinye when the defendants failed to timely respond to the allegations, and permanently banned them from the “Kanye West” mark or any parody of it. In July, cases against four other defendants were settled out of court.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Trademark Watch: Redskins Appeal, Tesco Dashed, Don't Cross Warner Bros.

Posted by Jerome McDonnell on August 15, 2014 04:04 PM

It's a busy time for trademark watchers, as brands including the Quaker Oats-owned Aunt Jemima and the Clif and Kind health bars have found themselves tussling over trademarks. Some other trademark news of note:

As expected... The Washington Redskins are appealing a federal decision to cancel the team's trademarks. “We believe that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence, and we look forward to having a federal court review this obviously flawed decision,” Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins, stated. Fierce lobbying on both sides includes a new video supporting the team's controversial name, counteracting a video during the Super Bowl protesting the name.

Tesco hopes dashed: European supermarket giant Tesco was rebuffed in its attempt to trademark the blue dashes underlining its iconic wordmark, as the UK's Intellectual Property Office ruled that the logo's Tevrons (as Tesco insiders call them) were too simple and not distinctive enough to merit trademark protection. While simplicity may be the ultimate sophistication, for trademarks, it's better to be complicated.

Who wants to live forever? In the midst of the mourning over the passing of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall this week, Mondaq.com took at look at the actors' respective personal trademark registrations and praises both for savvy personal brand management. After all, patents expire and copyright runs its course—but (only) trademarks can last forever...Continue reading...

trademark wars

Clif Bar vs. KIND: A Clear Case of Trademark Infringement?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 14, 2014 11:41 AM

Health bars claim to be good for everyone, but that's not the case when it comes to trademark claims. 

KIND has taken Clif Bar to court, claiming that the latter’s new Mojo bars bear a little too much resemblance to their own packaging, Lexology reports. Clif, of course, “disputes that the packaging of KIND bars is distinctive,” the site notes. KIND asked the court to temporarily stop Clif from selling the Mojo bars, which are packaged in a clear wrapper, like KIND bars, while the suit is underway, but the court has declined. KIND has appealed that decision.

While the court discovered that Clif marketers thought the KIND packaging was “best in class” when the Mojo design was created, it also found that a few other health bars had similar designs and that consumers weren’t confused about whether they were buying a KIND bar or not when they purchased a Mojo bar.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Trademark Watch: Trump Wants Out, Google Gets Glass and Pink Goes Black

Posted by Jerome McDonnell on August 6, 2014 11:42 AM

Brands should know better than to stand in the way of The Donald. The real estate magnate turned political pundit recently filed a lawsuit that demands that his name, "Trump," be removed from the facade of two of his former Atlantic City casinos, of which Trump himself no longer has any ownership. 

The lawsuit against Trump Entertainment Resorts, a descendant of the corporation he once owned, is being charged to remove the Trump name from its properties and business name "because it has allowed its two Atlantic City casinos, the Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal, to fall into disrepair, tarnishing his personal brand and confusing customers," according to CBS News

Trump Plaza, which is set to close in September, is just one piece of the crisis unfolding in debt-stricken Atlantic City, and Trump, who went through three bankruptcies while in AC, clearly wants to wash his hands of the seaside resort town.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Protecting the Sport of Fitness: In and Out of the Box, CrossFit Defends Its Brand

Posted by Nicole Briggs on July 22, 2014 02:04 PM

CrossFit: chances are you’ve tried it, either loved it (or hated it) or know someone who can’t live without it. The fitness phenomenon launched by Greg Glassman in 2000 has grown from cult popularity to an expansive lifestyle brand based off its strength and conditioning programs.  

Today, there are more than 9,000 affiliated gyms, and although CrossFit Inc. licenses its name to those gyms for an annual fee, having thousands of affiliated locations across the world makes it extremely hard to fish out the reals from the fakes. 

After all, part of the success of a brand could be directly related to the how well they police their trademark(s), and CrossFit's legal team is no stranger to the good ol' cease and desist letter. The brand has previously gone after Cross Gym, CrossFat, Caldera Cross-Fit, CrossFitFood and Don’t Cross Me, I’m Fit, to name a few. 

The brand has an even greater responsibility to protect its name thanks to the lucrative 10-year deal it signed with Reebok in 2010 that has been largely responsible for the brand's mainstream proliferation with branded workout gear, Reebok-branded CrossFit gyms and its title sponsorship of the annual CrossFit Games, which kick off this Friday.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Booze Brands Duke it Out Over Trademark Claims

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 9, 2014 04:02 PM

John Wayne hasn’t been dead for quite as long as Nathanael Greene, a Revolutionary War general, but both of their names have come up in trademark suits dealing with a few big-name brands.

Greene has the honor of inspiring a North Carolina craft brewer to name its company (and one of its brews) Natty Greene’s, but AB InBev is fighting the trademark request due to its Natural Light brand, which holds the trademark for Natty Light and other such phrases, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Since at least 1998, and well prior to the filing date of the application, (AB) has established a family of Natty-formative marks used in connection with beer,” AB states in its opposition filing, according to the paper. Natty Greene’s, which has been around for a decade and recently requested a trademark because it has seen large growth recently after it began shipping its beer out of state, begs to differ.Continue reading...

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