2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

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Facebook at 10: Smart, But Still Not Doing Its Legal Due Diligence

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 4, 2014 06:04 PM

What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a cease and desist letter?

Facebook, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary today, is taking the time to look back on its past but also make some important moves for its future. The decade-old social media site, which may or may not be losing some of its luster with the younger crowd, served up millions of personalized "look back" videos that captured some of users' most-liked statuses, photos and life events over the course of their time on the network. 

With over 1 billion users across the world and a $150 billion valuation, it's safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg, when he was just a Harvard sophmore trying to connect his classmates, didn't expect "the Facebook" to turn into a fraction of what it is today.Continue reading...

contrabrand

This Big Game Isn't Just for Brands as Feds Seize Over $21 Million in Fake Goods

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 4, 2014 10:14 AM

T-shirts and caps made up for locker-room celebrations that never happen for the losing teams of the World Series, Stanley Cup, NBA Championship and more major sporting contests usually end up getting shipped off to some far corner of the earth where people (and the brands) could care less whether the Red Sox won the world championship or not.

However, when truckloads of counterfeit goods were taken out of storage and handed out to Hurricane Katrina survivors a few years ago, legal representatives for a number of brands were not happy.

“In its act of charity, the federal government sacrificed the rights of trademark holders,” Kristina Rae Montanaro wrote in The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, according to the New York Times. “(T)hese companies did not spend millions of dollars in high-end advertising only to be associated with ‘shelter chic.’ ”

And so the $21.6 million worth of Super Bowl-related counterfeit goods, more than 202,000 items—most of it clothing—that was seized by federal agents in the last week or so will be taken to industrial shredders once they aren’t needed anymore as evidence in the cases against the 50 individuals arrested.Continue reading...

brand vs. brand

KitKat Presses On Abroad Despite Continued Legal Troubles

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 21, 2014 04:58 PM

Kit Kat and Cadbury have had their fair share of squabbles. Most recently, Nestle's KitKat blocked Mondelez-owned Cadbury from trademarking its signature purple hue that it has used for years, but now Cadbury has struck back.

The UK's biggest chocolate maker has been trying to block KitKat from trademarking the shape of its candy bars—which has been in use since about 1935—in the UK. The case is now being reviewed by the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Nestle already holds the trademark for the bar in the rest of Europe. 

But the legal wrangling hasn't kept KitKat from furthering its brand.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...

video killed the _____ star

YouTube Plays Gamers in Sweep for Copyrighted Content

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 19, 2013 11:27 AM

YouTube has always been loathe to broadcast video that features copyrighted content—and rightfully so—but a recent change to its scanning system has made the Google-owned video giant an enemy of gaming enthusiasts as it has removed a wide variety of video-game-related videos from the site.

The shift came when YouTube adjusted Content ID, the tool used for scanning videos for copyrighted content. The update removed many videos from the site, irking gamers who, according to Forbes, were left confused and for some, out of some money. The videos affected include Let's Play videos, game reviews and more. In reaction to the uproar, YouTube emailed users with information on the expanded system and how to handle claims:

"Whether gaming, music or comedy is your passion, know that we love what you do. We’ve worked hard to design Content ID and other tools to give everyone — from individual creators to media companies — the opportunity to make great videos and earn money. As YouTube grows, we want to make sure we’re providing the right product features to ensure that everyone continues to thrive."Continue reading...

see you in court

Boys vs. Girls: Beastie Boys Countersue GoldieBlox Over Song Misuse

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 13, 2013 05:53 PM

The Beastie Boys’ “Girls” isn’t exactly a feminist manifesto with its expression of why the singer loves women so much, explained with such lyrics as, “Girls - to do the dishes/ Girls - to clean up my room.”

So when GoldieBlox, a toy company focused on building playthings that will help girls excel in math and science, set out to promote itself, it took the Boys’ tune from 1987 and completely rewrote the lyrics to say such empowering things as, “Girls, to build a spaceship / Girls, to code a new app.” 

And while plenty of people were fans of the company's re-worked version, which was used in an online video advert for the toys, the remaining Beastie Boys and the estate of Adam “MCA” Yauch were caught off-guard, especially since GoldieBlox didn't have express permission and because the band had always vowed not to let their music be used in any advertising.Continue reading...

contrabrand

With the Holiday Shopping Season Comes Crackdowns on Counterfeit Goods

Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 5, 2013 10:52 AM

Cyber Monday is an opportunity for legitimate online merchants to capitalize on the holiday shopping season—but it's also a time when a slew of websites look to sell consumers counterfeit goods. Online and offline scammers sell about $250 billion of fake brand name items annually in the US alone, with the design and fashion industries particularly hard hit. 

This past Cyber Monday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worked together with European and Hong Kong authorities to seize some 700 websites, 297 of them based in the US, that were selling counterfeit goods. It is the fourth year that such sites have been targeted on Cyber Monday.

ICE Acting Director John Sandweg said, "Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP [Intellectual Property] crime," in a press release. "Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites."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...

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