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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.]

trademark wars

Karamel Sutra's Fine, But Ben & Jerry’s Not Amused by Porn Clone

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 6, 2012 01:12 PM

The ice-cream company that gave the world Schweddy Balls and Karamel Sutra isn’t apparently amused by somebody using the name Ben & Cherry’s. Perhaps Ben & Jerry’s discomfort comes from the fact that the somebody in question is a hardcore porn film producer.

The Vermont-based, Unilever-owned B&J’s has filed a trademark suit against B&C’s, the Associated Press reports, in order to stop them “tarnish(ing)” the ice-cream maker’s name.

Ben & Cherry’s doesn’t just use a variation of the B&J’s name and logo on its films; it also gives its videos names based on Ben & Jerry’s flavors. Witness "Boston Cream Thigh," at right, ''New York Fat & Chunky," and "Peanut Butter D-Cup," the AP reports. Not only that, the packaging of the films contains elements that appear on Ben & Jerry’s packaging, such as “a grazing cow, green grass and large white puffy clouds.”

It's not that Ben & Jerry’s is averse to hanky panky; after all, the brand using a more G-rated bit of romance – spooning (get it?) – to help sell its new Greek Frozen Yogurt.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Simply Red: Louboutin Right to Red Sole Upheld in US with Strings Attached

Posted by Barry Silverstein on September 5, 2012 05:25 PM

Fashion brands are particularly fussy when it comes to protecting an attribute that defines their very soul — or in the case of Christian Louboutin, its sole.

The designer of shoes with iconic red bottoms that sell for as high as $3995 a pair, Louboutin has been sticking its stilettos into counterfeiters who sell fake versions of pricey pairs of their shoes, as well as other fashion brands who dare to step on their trademarked sole. 

Last August, Louboutin took legal action in a U.S. court against another French fashion firm, Yves Saint Laurent. The case had interesting trademark implications: Louboutin had argued that YSL was infringing on its intellectual property by introducing all-red shoes. But a New York judge rebuffed the argument, stating that "Loubotin's claim would cast a red cloud over the whole industry, cramping what other designers could do while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette. Louboutin would thus be able to market a total outfit in red, while other designers would not."

Louboutin appealed the decision and now, in the latest twist, it has won a trademark battle, but not the trademark war.Continue reading...

trademark wars

UPDATE: Gucci Heirs' Legal Dispute Over ToBeG Fashion Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 3, 2012 05:05 PM

Note: This is an update of a story that was originally published on July 27th —

The Gucci family likely doesn't relish any unpleasantries airing out in the open, but two great-grandsons of the company’s namesake founder who are also in the fashion business ended up in an Italian court of law as a result of an intellectual property case brought by the Gucci Group. An interim legal ruling in that case follows a different case involving Gucci, which scored a recent victory against the would-be interlocking G's of Italian rival Guess.

The back story to the case involving Guccio Gucci's great-grandsons: the brothers, Guccio and Alessandro Gucci, own and operate a handbag (that's an example above) and accessories brand called ToBeG. In the words of London's Daily Telegraph, a court in Florence ruled on July 12th that ToBeG was “guilty of infringement of Gucci’s trademarks” and so cannot use the name "Gucci" or "Guccio Gucci" for "marketing communications or website activities."

Roberto Calabresi of SLCG, the legal firm representing ToBeG in the case, provided this statement to brandchannel clarifying that interim legal order:Continue reading...

trademark wars

Early Warning: Anonymous Swipes Back at French Trademark Applicant

Posted by Michael Waltzer on July 31, 2012 04:29 PM

Would you buy a T-shirt with a Latin Kings gang symbol on it? How about a backpack with the Bloods gang sign? Would you even try and trademark such a symbol? The branding of illegal activity is usually done underground, consisting of tattoos and graffiti mostly. So why French company, Early Flicker, would try and trademark the Anonymous logo and slogan is un peu bizarre.

Tweeted by @Asher Wolf yesterday, it appears Apollinaire Auffret from Early Flicker applied to the Institut National De La Propriete Industrielle (INPI) to protect the logo and slogan. The hacktivist group's logo consists of a headless man in a suit with a question mark for a head, standing before a globe and a wreath. The slogan reads "Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us." Early Flicker is an eBay store that has a range of different product categories, including t-shirts, handbags, and accessories.

The little e-tialer is taking on a big dog with its latest bid. Anonymous condones crime by illegaly releasing protected IP and temporarily bringing down large corporate and brands' websites, but don't like any legal moves that impinge on their rights. So, naturally, Anonymous has already issued this response:Continue reading...

trademark wars

No Bull: Red Bull Prevails Against Bullet Energy Drink Rival

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 18, 2012 01:15 PM

A European beverage maker took on the folks at Red Bull and is now headed home with an empty glass and a sad story to tell.

Sun Mark produces an energy drink called Bullet that features the slogan “No bull in this can,” and that did not sit well with Austria’s 28-year-old Red Bull GMBH. After all, Red Bull produces a “Bullit” drink already. The pair locked horns legally and now Red Bull is walking away the victor after a hearing in a London High Court, according to the Independent.

The judge noted that consumers would likely be confused between the two products and the slogan took “unfair advantage of the repute of Red Bull," the paper reports. (Bullet's US website reads, "Move over Red Bull!")Continue reading...

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