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...


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...

name game

Starbucks Can’t Stop Charbucks, but Kraft Holds Cracker Barrel Back in Brand Name Battles

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 18, 2013 12:41 PM

Starbucks still can’t find a way to stop a New Hampshire coffee company from selling Charbucks coffee products, even after more than a decade of legal wrangling. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday “that Black Bear Micro Roastery may continue selling ‘Charbucks Blend,’ ‘Mister Charbucks,’ and ‘Mr. Charbucks’ coffee.”

Starbucks took Wolfe’s Borough Coffee to court 12 years ago, but Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier wrote Friday that Starbucks had not proved that consumers would be confused in the slightest by the “blurring of the brand,” Reuters reports.

To help prove its case early on, Starbucks surveyed 600 people who said their “number one association of the name ‘Charbucks’ in the minds of consumers is with the brand ‘Starbucks.’” The survey wasn’t used in court, though, because it was ruled to be “fundamentally flawed.” The results weren’t definitive, either. Only 4.4 percent said “Starbucks” or “coffee house” when asked what kind of establishment would sell a product labeled Charbucks. However, 39.5 percent thought of “Starbucks” or “coffee” when the word “Charbucks” was mentioned.Continue reading...

brand trainwrecks

Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Drags Brands Through the Mud with Him

Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2013 03:03 PM

Supporters of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford appropriated the Ford Motor Co. logo to back their man. But the keeper of the Blue Oval had a better idea.

Ford, the company, said that it will protect its script and oval logo from use by backers of Ford, the admitted drug-buying, crack-using, publicly drunk politician. "Ford did not grant permission for use of its logo" on "Ford Nation" t-shirts that were worn at a United Way charity event in Toronto this week, said company spokesman Jay Cooney, according to the Toronto Star. "We view it as an unauthorized use of our trademark and have asked it to be stopped." The t-shirts were sold after Rob Ford bobbleheads sold out. 

Ford got this very same logo out of hock last year after using it as collateral to help borrow $23.4 billion in 2006 that helped the company weather the global financial crisis and Great Recession without having to resort to bailouts by US and Canadian taxpayers as General Motors and Chrysler did.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Hells Angels Are Ready to Ride Over Young Jeezy Trademark Infringement

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 6, 2013 06:57 PM

The Hells Angels aren’t exactly a brand most folks want to tangle with. 

Rapper Young Jeezy and retailer Dillard’s clearly didn’t get the memo. The pair are on the wrong end of a trademark lawsuit filed by the group that hasn’t exactly shied from confrontation during its history. The suit is over the perception that Jeezy’s 8732 Apparel line and some hats, shirts, and vests being sold by Dillard’s, have images that are “conducingly similar” to the trademarked Hells Angels Death Head.

“Guys live and die for that patch,” the lawyer for the Angels, Fritz Clapp, said, the Daily Mail reports. “It's not just a piece of clothing.” The Angels would like all of the goods with the logos to be handed over so there can be “supervised destruction.”Continue reading...

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