cause marketing

With No Trademark Protection, Ice Bucket Challenge is Open to All

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 2, 2014 05:12 PM

Bill Gates and Jennifer Lopez have done it. Martha Stewart and Donald Trump have, too. Your friends and neighbors have probably shown off their efforts on social media. Perhaps even you have done it.

“It,” of course, is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the viral awareness campaign that has raised over $100 million towards research for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The Challenge, which was briefly the focus of a US Patent and Trademark Office application that has since been pulled, is still going strong on social media channels around the globe, and in turn is inspiring other causes to attempt to adopt viral, "Challenge"-inspired campaigns.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...

what's in a name

Is Your Brand FUCT? Lessons Learned from Scandalous and Disparaging Names

Posted by Courtney Cantor on August 13, 2014 12:33 PM

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has shot down a registration by the streetwear brand FUCT for the term "FUCT" for "athletic apparel," finding that the word is the phonetic equivalent (past tense) of that oh-so popular curse word sometimes called "the F-word" in polite company.

US Trademark Law prevents the registration of any trademark that "consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute," but what's "immoral, deceptive, or scandalous" is open to interpretation, of course.

The famed clothing brand French Connection faced no hardships in the US when registering for FCUK because it was an "acronym" for the brand's "French Connection UK" moniker, even though FUCT's trademark filing argued that it's a coined word and an acronym for "Friends U Can't Trust."

It is not uncommon for a company to push the boundaries of decency in its pursuit of a provocative brand name or logo, as FUCT founder Erik Brunetti (who last year published a book with Rizzoli about the brand's evolution as an in-your-face icon of skateboarding, graffiti and street culture) has stated was his intention. After all, as the popularity of TMZ and the Kardashians have shown us, the public is often captivated by a little bit of scandal.Continue reading...

brand ambassadors

Inspiration Behind Aunt Jemima Brand at the Heart of $2 Billion Lawsuit

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 11, 2014 06:37 PM

Aunt Jemima stares down from grocery-store shelves with a beatific smile, but the woman who is supposedly the inspiration behind the brand has at least one great grandchild who isn’t too happy.

Last year, the progeny of Anna Short Harrington, whose descendants argue that she was the inspiration behind the Aunt Jemima brand and recipe and whose likeness served as the model for the brand, which was bought by Quaker Oats in 1935, discovered that the company “had trademarked Harrington's likeness and picture in 1937" and "determined that they were owed royalties,” Reuters reports.

Harrington's great-grandson, D.W. Hunter, filed a $2 billion lawsuit on August 5 against Quaker Oats Co., PepsiCo, which owns Quaker Oats, Pinnacle Foods and Hillshire Brands Co., for exploiting Harrington's image and recipe for years without paying an "equitable fair share of royalties" to her family.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...

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