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Legislation was tabled last week in the US House of Representatives calling for the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), following a week in which over 100 elected officials declared their support for dismantling the organisation. It sparked a reminder that the agency plays a crucial role in the fight against counterfeits, with a leading trademark lawyer describing the calls for ICE’s complete abolition as “short-sighted”, warning that such a move would damage brand rights enforcement as well as other positive functions it serves.
In a case regarding the Krusty Krab restaurant from SpongeBob SquarePants, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has confirmed that a specific element from a television series can receive trademark protection. It held that a real-life seafood restaurant by the name of The Krusty Krab would cause confusion with Viacom’s common law rights in THE KRUSTY KRAB.
In a case involving competing producers of foam ear plugs, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has vacated the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favour of defendant McKeon. The district court had found that Moldex’s bright green colour for ear plugs is functional and thus not protectable as trade dress, but the Ninth Circuit held that there remained a dispute of material fact as to whether the bright green colour is functional.
Federal Circuit: TTAB applied wrong test in finding Coca-Cola’s ZERO mark not generic for soft drinks
In Royal Crown Company Inc v The Coca-Cola Company, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has vacated a decision of the TTAB in which the latter found that the opponents had failed to prove that Coca-Cola’s ZERO mark is generic for soft drinks and sports drinks, but that Coca-Cola had established acquired distinctiveness in ZERO for soft drinks.
Eighth Circuit: phonetically identical description of competing dog bags does not necessarily cause confusion
In ZW USA Inc v PWD Systems LLC, which involved competitors in the dog bag market, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has affirmed a district court summary judgment finding that no evidence had been presented from which a jury could infer that consumers were likely to confuse ZW USA Inc’s ONEPUL dog bags with PWD Systems LLC’s BagSpot ‘one-pull’ bags.
More evidence of the economic benefits of trademark ownership has emerged, with new research from the US Patent and Trademark Office revealing that registered trademark protection helps companies to grow, employ more people and innovate. Along with a slew of similar research findings to surface in recent months, the study reinforces efforts to communicate the benefits of trademark rights; not only to businesses, but to consumers and policy-makers.
How brands should prepare for the big changes coming to Canada’s trademark market: exclusive data analysis
In our latest country data report, we delve into Canada’s trademark landscape. We examine how a major overhaul of its trademark laws may lead to a clogged up register, assess the impact cannabis legalisation might have on rights holders and take a close look at filing and litigation data.
Trump administration tariffs “could help legitimise fake goods”: trade associations join up to sound alarm bells
A number of major US trade associations have joined forces to send a letter to two members of the House Ways and Means Committee warning that the Trump administration’s recent trade tariffs are having a harmful effect on the battle against counterfeit goods. The strongly worded letter, seen by World Trademark Review, claims that the tariffs place “significant barriers on the fight against harmful fakes” and calls for an urgent rethink.
Data from CompuMark has revealed the leading trademark filers at the USPTO last year. In previous years, the top filer has been a major company, but in 2017 it was a New York-based doctor who filed over 300 marks at the USPTO. We spoke with the representative behind these marks, as well as a CompuMark expert who suggests that “trademark league tables might not be dominated by large corporations in the future”.
In adidas America Inc v Skechers USA Inc, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s preliminary injunction prohibiting Skechers from selling two styles of shoe that allegedly infringed and diluted adidas’ Stan Smith trade dress and three-stripe trademark.
In Variety Stores Inc v Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has reversed summary judgment in a trademark infringement dispute over the use of the term 'Backyard' on grills, finding that the district court had erred because there were genuine issues of disputed fact concerning key factors in the 'likelihood of confusion' analysis.
In Horowitz v 148 South Emerson Assocs LLC, which involved a licence agreement for use of the SLOPPY TUNA trademark for a restaurant, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has addressed for the first time whether attorneys’ fees should be included in an award of costs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d).
“I wish the US president had opposed my trademark” applicant of registered Trump mark on treating IP as art
A popular author and professional speaker has successfully registered a trademark for GRABBA THE TRUMP in the UK, a combining of terms related to both US President Donald Trump and a character from the Star Wars universe. Talking to World Trademark Review, the applicant states that he hoped Trump would oppose the mark and that he enjoys provoking major brands with his trademark applications.
The EUIPO has released a new report, compiling research since 2013, to present a comprehensive and updated picture of the scope and impact of IP rights infringement in the European Union.
In Tommie Copper IP Inc v Gcool-Tech Usa LLC, the TTAB has dismissed an opposition even though the applicant did not have use in commerce at the time of filing the application and used a mocked-up specimen. The decision demonstrates the difficulty of establishing fraud before the USPTO, even where there is direct evidence that an applicant made false and material representations.
In Lucasfilm Ltd LLC v Ren Ventures Ltd a California federal court has recognised that trademark rights could arise from the use of a mark to identify a fictional board game in a popular literary genre, even where the mark has never been used in connection with corresponding goods in the real-world marketplace and has not been in continuous use since its introduction in the literary space.
Tam’s trademark delivery, Tequila sweatshirts and a collective noun for IP lawyers: INTA 2018 standout moments
On Tuesday evening the WTR Industry Awards celebrated another year of excellence in corporate trademark practice. While we are in the awards mood, we thought we should recognise the standout moments and individuals from this year’s INTA Annual Meeting.
In Kim v Kimm, addressing the sufficiency of allegations to sustain a claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of a complaint alleging a scheme to fraudulently bring a trademark infringement lawsuit.
The TTAB has dismissed rapper Dr Dre's opposition to the registration of the word mark DR. DRAI and the word and design mark DOCTOR DRAI for goods and services in the field of women's and men's health. Although the TTAB found the marks to be more similar than dissimilar, Dr Dre failed to prove that consumers would presume a connection between the rapper and the applicant's goods and services.
With the legalisation of recreational cannabis impending in Canada, new business models and opportunities are emerging for a surprising variety of brand owners.
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