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...

trademark wars

BP Hopes to Prevail in Green Trademark Claim in Australia

Posted by Jerome McDonnell on July 3, 2014 12:56 PM

After more than 20 years of trying, BP has failed to convince the Australian government that its signature shade of green should be granted a trademark registration.

IP Australia, which administers that country’s intellectual property rights system, ruled on June 17 that it found no convincing evidence to support the petroleum giant’s efforts to protect the color shade Pantone 348C—despite the fact that the color has been central to the BP brand since the 1930s. While the company has the right (until July 17) to appeal, this decision is yet another setback for BP, which has successfully secured trademark registrations for the single color in markets including the UK, France, Iran and nearby New Zealand.

Australian retailer Woolworths, whose apple logo also utilizes the color green, had previously opposed BP’s attempts to register the color, and while some media reports have positioned this development as a huge victory for Woolworths, this latest update focuses on less the a war between two corporations but on whether the color, as BP seeks to protect it, actually functions as a trademark and warrants protection.Continue reading...

trademark wars

The Price of Fame: Can Costco Bury the Tiffany Brand with Genericide Claims?

Posted by Jerome McDonnell on July 1, 2014 12:16 PM

On Friday, trial dates were set for the case that could determine the fate of the Tiffany brand.

After being caught selling "Tiffany-style" rings in its wholesale outlets in 2012, Costco has now alleged that “Tiffany setting” is merely a generic term for a type of ring setting. Tiffany—which holds 69 trademarks in the US that comprise its name—could eventually face a finding that its trademark is generic and therefore available for use by Costco and anyone else that wants to refer to that particular style of setting.

The world-renowned brand—which has been in use for over 175 years with a valuation of $5.44 billion—may be in jeopardy, and losing the exclusive right to use the name could have devastating financial consequences.

In support of its argument, Costco had submitted dictionary definitions of “Tiffany” and “Tiffany setting,” a lexicographer’s report, specimens of generic use of the term “Tiffany setting” by jewelry manufacturers, retailers and consumers and examples of the generic use of the term “tiffany setting” in publications. The evidence was enough for the court to find sufficient cause to proceed with the case, which originally stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Tiffany last year.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Hershey Keeps a Short Leash on Likeness as Lawsuits Pile Up

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 17, 2014 11:12 AM

Sweets companies are often the beneficiaries of consumers with the munchies, but one brand, Hershey's, isn't very happy with the marajuana industry at the moment. 

The brand says it plans to file suit against a Colorado marijuana-edibles company, TinctureBelle LLC, for trademark infringement, alleging that the design of its product too much resembles its own products, Reuters reports. It also noted “there was a safety risk because consumers, especially children, might eat the pot products by mistake.”

TinctureBelle said that it had changed its packaging six months ago and no longer looks like Hershey's products. "We changed our entire label line approximately six months ago, long before these allegations surfaced," TinctureBelle owner Char Mayes said, according to the wire service. "Our new packaging looks nothing like Hershey's or anyone else's."Continue reading...

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