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...

sip on this

Is Dumb Starbucks Brewhaha a Tempest In a Teapot? (Update: Mystery Solved)

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 10, 2014 02:47 PM

Not since The North Face sued The South Butt has the world seen a case pitting the free speech right of parody against the rights of a trademark holder.

Dumb Iced Coffee, Dumb Frappuccinos and Dumb Brewed Coffee—with the option of picking up a disc of the latest Dumb Jazz Standards—are just a few of the products awaiting customers at the new Los Feliz, Calif. cafe, "Dumb Starbucks." Is it a real thing or an an artist's statement about Starbucks? And if it is the latter, does the artist know it's 2014 and not 2004?

Customers waited for hours over the weekend to sip on free Dumb Iced Coffee and Dumb Frappuccinos in the curious "Dumb Starbucks," its interior decorated to match a typical Starbucks, with a "Dumb" menu and all. But the new shop situated next to a laundromat in a Los Angeles neighborhood was sure to make clear that it is not in fact a Starbucks. According to a posted FAQ statement, the cafe-as-art says, "Dumb Starbucks is not affiliated in any way with Starbucks Corporation. We are simply using their name and logo for marketing purposes."Continue reading...

brand extensions

Lego Movie Is a Success Before Film Even Hits Theaters, But Is There a TM Issue?

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 6, 2014 02:54 PM

"The first step to recover from your brickdiction is to admit you are powerless over bricks." That's the opening sentence from the book Brickdiction: A Seven Step Recovery Guide for People Addicted to LEGO®

Of course the irony about the book Brickdiction is that it's just a gag gift for that Lego lover you know, another brick in the expanding Legonomy that is about to go to a brand new level with Friday's release of The Lego Movie. With a staggering 98 percent "fresh" rating so far on film rating site Rotten Tomatoes, The Lego Movie is winning praise from critics across the board. (The one stick-in-the-mud is the NY Post.) The movie is so successful, in fact, that a sequel is already being built before the film's official release date.

With brands falling over each other to get a piece of the Legonomy, the question is not if The Lego Movie will be a success for the Lego franchise but how much of a success.Continue reading...

brand roadmaps

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...

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