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In case you missed it, the latest World Trademark Review podcast which focuses on the issues surrounding the Washington Redskins brand - is now available.
This week The Washington Post’s Frances Stead Sellers spoke to linguistic expert Geoffrey Nunberg, who argued that linguistic analysis of big data could make an important contribution to analysis of when a term is also a slur. However, linguistics is just one dimension of the debate over the Washington Redskins team name, posing the question of whether trademark law, marketing considerations, social justice concerns, economics or political pressure will ultimately prove persuasive in the battle for change.
US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations have released their fiscal year 2014 intellectual property rights and seizure statistics, revealing a 5% drop in seizures. However, the figures shouldn’t be read as an indicator that the scourge of counterfeit goods is abating.
The US Supreme Court has handed down its decision in B&B Hardware v Hargis Industries, addressing the level of deference that should be afforded to findings made by the TTAB on likelihood of confusion. Commentators argue that its reversal of an Eighth Circuit decision means that trademark counsel need to think even more strategically about TTAB proceedings.
Political pressure is building over the REDSKINS trademark with the introduction of new legislation designed to retroactively cancel any existing federal trademarks for the term. The move follows the recent Justice Department announcement that is to intervene in the lawsuit currently centred on the NFL team’s trademark.
In a suit centred on the iconic Jordan Brand ‘Jumpman’ logo, a photographer is suing Nike for direct, vicarious and contributory copyright infringement, and for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. While a copyright suit, it is one for trademark professionals to follow.
The US Supreme Court has handed down its decision in Hana Financial v Hana Bank, which centres on the issue of trademark tacking.
The USPTO has published its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for financial year (FY) 2014, with trademark operations getting a clear thumbs up.
It is not often that trademark issues are discussed at the US Supreme Court, but this week’s case list has a distinct trademark flavour, with oral arguments in two such cases to be heard. Both could have significant impact for practitioners, not least with respect to the costs related to disputes.
While the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s efforts against IP rights violations may not garner the same media coverage as its other enforcement activities, IP theft falls firmly under its white collar crime remit. Speaking at this week’s INTA Leadership Meeting in Phoenix, one agent expanded on why some reported violations lead to active cases and some don’t.
The announcement that the White House has nominated Michelle Lee to be the next Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director at the USPTO means that the wait for a permanent replacement to David Kappos may soon be over. Should she occupy the top seat, however, a number of challenges await Lee not least ensuring that the trademark side of operations receives as much attention as patents.
Over the past week pressure to change the Washington Redskins’ team name has grown, with the threat of legislation to end the National Football League’s tax-exempt status if it does not act. Online marketplace Etsy has also announced that it will no longer permit the sale of products bearing the team’s name or logo. While some have questioned the policy, a spokesperson for the site has expanded on the site’s approach to takedown and marketplace policing.
It’s hiring time at the USPTO. While the wait goes on for a permanent Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director at the agency, the vacancy list just got longer with the news that the incumbent, Deborah Cohn, plans to retire.
Last week President Obama unveiled his intent to nominate a number of individuals to key administration posts, one such being for the role of intellectual property enforcement coordinator (IPAC). While a positive move for the IP community, the directors chair at the USPTO remains vacant, having been overlooked in this latest round of nominations.
New research has challenged the assumptions used in recent studies evidencing the positive economic impact of intellectual property. The paper is specifically critical of US research projects that it claims make a “substantial leap from the fact that IP exists within a particular industry to the conclusion that job creation and employment in that industry hinge on strong IP protections”.
An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General has accused the USPTO’s Commissioner of Trademarks of improperly using her position to facilitate the hiring of a family member’s fiancé, while criticising wider hiring practices at the office. Meanwhile the search for a permanent successor to David Kappos, previous director of the USPTO, continues to stutter.
The US District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled that a law firm has standing to complain about trademark solicitations sent by the Patent & Trademark Agency LLC, which it alleges are misleading. While the case will now progress and be decided on its merits, one practitioner has called for more to be done to police trademark solicitation campaigns.
While it may not generate the same media buzz as the debate over the REDSKINS trademark, the US Court of Appeals’ ruling on the application for the ‘Stop Islamisation of America’ mark offers an important insight into the treatment of disparaging marks.
‘.gop’, now in sunrise, is notable as it is the only new gTLD in the first round of applications to be operated by a political party. However, one commentator has urged brands to consider the string when devising their registration strategies, no matter what their political persuasion.
This weekend media outlets around the world were abuzz with reports of a coffee store in Los Angeles that looked like a Starbucks and sounded like a Starbucks yet wasn’t a Starbucks the crucial difference being the addition of one word to the coffee chain’s brand name. While the true motive behind the new ‘Dumb Starbucks’ store has yet to be revealed, the opening of the outlet puts Starbucks in a difficult position. However, one positive is to be found in the resulting media coverage.
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