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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...

trademark wars

Swatch Calls Time Out on Target with Claims of Infringement

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 11, 2014 06:38 PM

As if Target didn't already have enough lawsuits on its hands, swiss watchmaker Swatch is suing the retailer for ripping off its multicolor and zebra watch designs. 

The brand, which is known for its plastic and colorful wrist pieces, says that Target has been selling "inferior" knock-offs that will confuse consumers and hurt its brand, Reuters reports

America’s second-largest retailer declined comment on the case but did say it respects trademark rights and expects others to do so as well. Swatch would like Target to discontinue sales of the watches.Continue reading...

trademark wars

UK Court Sets Online Ad Precedent with Lush Cosmetics Ruling Over Amazon

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 12, 2014 11:57 AM

In what could be a landmark decision for e-commerce brands and the future of search, the UK High Court recently sided with British beauty company Lush over an infringement claim against Amazon.com. 

In a suit filed in December, the UK beauty brand alleged that Amazon infringed upon its trademarks by diverting online consumers to similar, off-brand products following a search for Lush cosmetics, which aren't available on Amazon. 

According to the legal filings, "Lush brought trademark infringement proceedings against Amazon on the basis that when the term 'Lush' was searched for on Amazon's website, the results returned were for goods which, although they featured the word 'lush' in a number of contexts, were not in fact made by Lush. Amazon had also bid on the Google AdWord 'Lush Bath Products' but did not, in fact, sell any Lush products."Continue reading...

trademark wars

University of Texas Goes On the Offensive to Protect 'Strong' Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 17, 2014 11:39 AM

When a high-power, renowned NCAA Division I football program hires a new coach, it's a pretty big deal. But the University of Texas probably didn't foresee the legal troubles it has run into since it hired new head coach Charlie Strong on Jan. 5. 

Since then, the Longhorns' legal department has been putting a lot of effort into going after manufacturers of clothing and gear that have already started to use Strong’s name on Texas promotional gear, the Associated Press reports.

The university has already put a stop to the sale of unsanctioned products with the words  “Stronghorns,” “Texas Strong,” and “UT Strong” on them. And while manufacturers may have been quick to jump on the 'Strong' bandwagon, the school wasn't too far behind: two days after it signed Strong to the coaching job, UT submitted an trademark application for "Stronghorns." After all, Strong signed a five-season contract for $25 million. According to the Austin Business Journal, six other applications for "Stronghorns" have been created as well.Continue reading...

trademark wars

China Trademark Office Strips Burberry of Its Stripes

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 27, 2013 05:23 PM

Burberry can now consider itself a member of an elite club that already claims Michael Jordan, General Motors, and Apple among its ranks. All four have dealt with trademark issues in China.

China’s national trademark office told the British luxury brand that it can no longer trademark its signature beige-black-and-red pattern on leather goods there, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Chinese government had “received an application challenging Burberry's trademark to the pattern,” and it sided with the local company.

Burberry, of course, will appeal. After all, sales for the brand went up nearly 20 percent in the year ending March 31 compared with the previous year, with China accounting for 14 percent of the brand’s overall retail and wholesale revenue. "A decision like this will not move the needle [on sales], because when you travel around Asia you find so many fake products already," Bernstein Research analyst Mario Ortelli told the paper. But that surely won't make the people at Burberry feel any better.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Hells Angels Are Ready to Ride Over Young Jeezy Trademark Infringement

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 6, 2013 06:57 PM

The Hells Angels aren’t exactly a brand most folks want to tangle with. 

Rapper Young Jeezy and retailer Dillard’s clearly didn’t get the memo. The pair are on the wrong end of a trademark lawsuit filed by the group that hasn’t exactly shied from confrontation during its history. The suit is over the perception that Jeezy’s 8732 Apparel line and some hats, shirts, and vests being sold by Dillard’s, have images that are “conducingly similar” to the trademarked Hells Angels Death Head.

“Guys live and die for that patch,” the lawyer for the Angels, Fritz Clapp, said, the Daily Mail reports. “It's not just a piece of clothing.” The Angels would like all of the goods with the logos to be handed over so there can be “supervised destruction.”Continue reading...

trademark wars

Culinary Creators Face Trademark Woes When it Comes to Foreign Foods

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 9, 2013 12:43 PM

A trademark case out of London hits close to home for one of the culinary world's hottest trends: pho. But it raises a much larger issue as trends cross cultural divides and enterprising types look to cordon what they believe is a unique market. 

Recently, a small Vietnamese restaurant in London called Mo Pho was asked to change its name due to the fact that Pho Cafe, a British chain of Vietnamese restaurants had trademarked the term "pho" several years earlier. Except in Vietnamese, pho is a simple term for "noodle soup," kind of the English equivalent of "cheeseburger." What the case suggests is that any general food term is protectable by trademark—provided it's in a foreign language.Continue reading...

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