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trademark wars

Belgian Chocolatiers Look to EU for Product Trademark

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 28, 2013 01:37 PM

When consumers pick up a bottle of Champagne, they know it’s from France, and when they scarf down some Prosciutto di Parma, they know it’s from Italy. Now, manufacturers of Belgian chocolates are trying to legally protect their chocolate so that when folks pick up products with the phrase “Belgian chocolate” on it, you can be sure it's from Belgium.

After all, chocolate is big business in Belgium. The Telegraph reports that there are “over 200 chocolate firms, more than 2,000 chocolate stores and museums drawing thousands of sweet-toothed visitors every year.” Exports of the product are worth $5.1 billion. That’s a lot of cacao.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Reddit Sensation Grumpy Cat Readies for Trademark Battles

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 15, 2013 02:28 PM

You want to make Reddit sensation Grumpy Cat really grumpy? Try using her name on a product without prior authorization.

The owners of the cat that took social media by storm five months ago have filed for a trademark for the name "Grumpy Cat" as well as the cat’s likeness. After all, their little kitty, whose name is actually Tardar Sauce, has since gotten her own website, Facebook fan page, retail space, an appearance on the Today Show and her own commercial for Friskies cat food, according to SmallBizTrends.com.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Italy’s Jesus Jeans In Throwdown Over the Lord's Name

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 26, 2013 03:12 PM

The Lord works in mysterious ways. Some American apparel manufacturers attempts to start up clothing lines that contain the name “Jesus” have been thwarted by the Italian maker of Jesus Jeans, which trademarked its name in the U.S. back in 2007. 

Jesus Jeans, which is apparently considering making an eventual marketing push in the States, is more than happy to have its legal team send cease-and-desist letters to anybody who is trying to make money selling pretty much any type of clothing with the Jesus name on it.  

The founder of Jesus Surfed, Michael Julius Anton, is ready to face off legally against Jesus Jeans, a fight that plenty of other manufacturers, such as "Jesus First," "Sweet Jesus," and "Jesus Couture," among others, are willing to join in, the Wall Street Journal reports. One manufacturer, “Jesus Up,” is still trying to work out an agreement. "How anyone can claim the name Jesus for themselves and put a trademark on it is beyond me," said Jesus Up founder Jeff Lamont, who also told the Journal that the company name had come to him in a message from God.

Wherever the message came from, Lamont was late to the game on the trademarking front. Jesus Jeans had been trying to trademark its name in the States since 1999 and finally succeeded in 2007. It has still been rejected in plenty of other countries, though such as Germany, Switzerland, China, Hungary and Ireland. However, such countries as Austria, Belgium, France, Spain and the Netherlands have allowed the trademark. The European Union gave it the “Jesus” community trademark, which is good across the entire Union. Continue reading...

trademark wars

American Winnebago Finally Puts Down Australian Copy Cat in Trademark Battle

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 20, 2013 03:31 PM

Winnebago Australia has finally done what America’s Winnebago Industries has been wanting it to do for decades: change its name. After a long legal battle, Winnebago Australia, which has never been affiliated with the U.S. motor home company of the same name, is changing its name to Avida.

Avida actually successfully trademarked the word “Winnebago” in Australia back in 1997, but Federal Court of Australia Justice Lindsay Foster ordered the cancellation of that registration last summer, saying that CEO Ben Binns “intentionally hijacked the Winnebago marks in Australia in a bold attempt to preempt Winnebago’s opening its doors here,” Bloomberg reported at the time.

However, don’t think that Avida is finished using the Winnebago name for its own self-promotion in Australia and New Zealand just yet.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Titanic II Operator Sets Course for Gigantic Trademark Battle

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 19, 2013 11:02 AM

Describing something that is oversized may soon involve a lawyer. The terms “titanic” and “gigantic” are both being considered for trademarking.

The man behind the plan, Clive Palmer, is an Australian billionaire who is having the Titanic completely re-created by a Chinese shipyard so it can set sail from England for North America in 2016. Palmer’s Blue Star Line, named after White Star Line, the company that owned the original Titanic, has filed a trademark request for a number of terms, including "Titanic," "Titanic II," "Titanic III," "Blue Star Line," and "Gigantic", although he's already promoting "Titanic II" on his website.

Palmer, a mining tycoon, believes that White Star Line had thought about naming one of its ships Gigantic, but never got around to it after its Titanic liner famously slammed into an iceberg near Newfoundland and sank, taking more than 1,500 lives along with it. “I think [the trademark application] will be OK,” Palmer said, according to Australia’s Boorowa News. “We'll just see how we go. I think there is a report back on it already, saying it is OK for a ship.”

However, there is some debate as to what he'll be able to trademark.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Levi's, VW Brands Help Nike Win US Supreme Court Trademark Ruling

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 9, 2013 06:02 PM

Nike’s Air Force 1 just celebrated 30 years, hitting stores way back in 1982 as the first basketball shoe to use its Nike Air technology. It’s been a huge success for the brand, and has become a collector’s item for sneakerheads. Its recent appearance in front of the Supreme Court, normally a place where sneakers don't dare to tread, may only increase its appeal to collectors.

The trouble began back in 2009 when a small shoemaker, Already LLC, which makes Yums sneakers was sued by Nike for infringing on its Air Force 1 trademark with the design of its Soulja Boy shoes.

The Yums brand owner responded countersued before Nike “issued a covenant not to sue, promising not to raise any trademark or unfair competition claims against Already or any affiliated entity based on Already’s existing footwear designs, or any future Already designs,” World Trademark Review reports. “Nike then moved to dismiss its claims with prejudice, and to dismiss Already’s counterclaim without prejudice on the ground that the covenant had extinguished the case or controversy.”Continue reading...

trademark wars

Julia Child, Herman Miller, and Snapple Roll Out the Lawyers

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 12, 2012 10:09 AM

To the untrained eye, the furniture above looks virtually identical — at a glance, either could pass for the iconic Eames furniture loved by mid-Century design lovers. That's the argument of the legal team for Herman Miller, who just have filed a federal lawsuit against Nuevo Americana, a Canadian firm, for “trademark infringement of its iconic Eames furniture,” according to WoodTV.com. The furniture in question is the Eames lounge chair and ottoman that were designed by Charles Eames way back in 1956 and have been owned by Herman Miller since 1982. 

Herman Miller wants the products to stop being marketed and would also like payment of court costs as well as three times the amount of profit and damages it has created due to the sale of this supposed knockoff.

Meanwhile, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has been taken to court by the food-safety advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest for “allegedly misleading consumers over the supposed health benefits of an antioxidant it uses in some varieties” of 7UP, according to Reuters. The aim is to make it a class-action suit.Continue reading...

trademark wars

PepsiCo Lawyers Don't Want Any Bare Naked Branding

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 2, 2012 10:16 AM

Welshman Simon Doherty owns one of the smallest breweries in Wales, the wee Artisan Brewing Co. in Cardiff, but size doesn’t matter when it comes to trademarks.

PepsiCo's lawyers caught wind Doherty was looking to trademark his “Bare Naked Beer” brand two years ago. The American beverage giant thought it was a little too close to its Naked Juice drinks brand. Apparently, the courts agree as a ruling now prohibits Doherty from using the name on his brews. He needs to make the switch to a new name within the next few months, and is offering 100 bottles of his finest for the winning suggestion (that doesn't use the word "Naked.")

Doherty wasn’t a complete loser on the day, though. “We can’t use the brand mark on our beer anymore but there was no case for using the brand on clothing so at least we won that battle,” Doherty told WalesOnline. “I have still been faced with the cost of representing myself in court, which was not cheap, but if PepsiCo had won outright I would have been facing astronomical costs.”

As Doherty figures out his next move, let's just hope Canada's Barenaked Ladies don't slap their brand on a bottle any time soon. [Oops - Artisan informed us on Twitter it's too late for that.]

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