EUIPO gears up for API launch; Buy Safe America Coalition calls for action; Fat Brands acquires Fazoli’s – news digest

Every Tuesday and Friday, WTR presents a round-up of news, developments and insights from across the trademark sphere. In our latest round-up, we look at the Toy Association issuing a warning about the dangers of fake products, why brands with sonic logos are perceived as 5% more valuable, Coca-Cola gaining full control of BodyArmor, and much more. Coverage this time from Victoria Arnold (VA), Bridget Diakun (BD), Tim Lince (TJL) and Trevor Little (TL).

Market radar:

The Toy Association issues warning about dangers of fake products – A survey commissioned by the ‎Toy Association has revealed that most US parents (65%) would purchase a counterfeit toy if their first choice was unavailable. Additionally, almost two-thirds (63%) would buy a fake toy if it was cheaper than the original item. The association is promoting these findings through November as part of its first-ever Toy Safety Awareness Month. "We know the global shipping crisis and associated product shortages are making it difficult for parents to find certain toys their kids have their hearts set on, but as families start checking off their holiday shopping lists, we urge them to put safety first," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Toy Association. "Illicit online sellers are out there, duping consumers into thinking they are buying the real thing or enticing them with much lower prices or the promise of getting a 'hot toy' of the holiday season. In fact, their fake, noncompliant products have the potential to be dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. When shopping online, families need to carefully scrutinize listings, and purchase only from reputable sellers and known brands, whose legitimate toys comply with the more than 100 different safety standards and tests required by law." (TL)

Buy Safe America Coalition renews call for action after policy hearing focused on counterfeiting – This week on WTR we reported on a Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing focused on the topic of “cleaning up online marketplaces: protecting against stolen, counterfeit, and unsafe goods”. For the Buy Safe America Coalition, the hearing highlighted how third-party marketplaces could be hubs for stolen and counterfeit products. In a statement issued the day after the hearing, Michael Hanson, coalition spokesperson, said: “At yesterday’s hearing, we heard from a seasoned criminal investigator, a small manufacturer and an academic expert that highlighted how organized retail crime and counterfeiting has grown, especially over the last year. The sale of these illicit goods is harming consumers and businesses both large and small across the US It is evident these criminals have found safe havens for their illegal activities on e-commerce platforms. Unless Congress establishes common-sense transparency and accountability safeguards on third-party marketplaces, we can only expect criminal syndicates to grow and inflict serious pain on American consumers, workers, and businesses." The Buy Safe America Coalition is currently supporting the INFORM Consumers Act, which would require e-commerce platforms to verify their third-party sellers. (TL)

ACG issues advice for purchasing online – As the “Black Friday” shopping event looms, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group has issued advice to consumers about how to keep their families safe from fake products. The group warns that, during the pandemic, global counterfeiting gangs have stockpiled dangerous versions of popular goods, which are now set to be sold into the market. It also highlights the risks of identity theft when purchasing goods online. As such, it advises consumers to be wary of deeply discounted prices, to scrutinise websites for misspellings and bad grammar, and to ensure that website addresses begin with ‘https’ at the payment stage. (TL)

Brands with sonic logos perceived as 5% more valuable – New research has found that sonic logos can lead to consumers perceiving a brand to be, on average, 5% more valuable and can “drive consumer purchase intent”. The study comes amid a “significant 22% increase in brands launching sonic identities in 2021”, including major brands such as American Express, Singapore Airlines and Walmart. However, simply launching an audio brand is not enough. Consumers need to recognise the sound of the brand. If not, there is a risk that perceived brand value can be reduced by as much as 7.7%. “This highlights the importance of recall, recognition and brand equity in the design of sonic identities,” the research notes. With marketing departments increasing their investment in sonic branding, it may be time for trademark professionals to ensure that their brand protection strategy considers audio marks. (TJL)

Brand radar:

Essity buys brands from Johnson & Johnson – Hygiene and health company Essity has acquired professional sports tape brands Coach, Elastikon and Zonas from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. The products have strong brand recognition and are well established in the United States. Essity is currently a global market leader in taping and strapping. Following the purchase, it will also become a leading sports medicine distributor in the United States. (BD)

Fat Brands continues M&A streak – Fat Brands will acquire restaurant chain Fazoli’s in a $130 million deal. The acquisition, which is expected to close by mid-December, is the fourth deal by Fat Brands since 2020. The company has already picked up sports bar chain Twin Peaks, as well as Johnny Rockets burger restaurants and the Global Franchise Group. The company is focusing on high-growth businesses while simultaneously gaining ownership of popular, well-known brands. Fat Brands is expected to announce more acquisitions before the end of the year. (BD)

Phillips Distilling picks up Kamora and Leroux spirits brands – Phillips Distilling has announced the acquisition of Leroux brandy and liqueurs and Kamora Coffee Liqueur from Beam Suntory. It is an unusual move for the Minnesota company, which rarely hits the acquisition trail. “Adding Leroux and Kamora was an opportunity to build on the most valuable part of our business,” Phillips CEO Andy England said in an interview. “Flavoured liquor – that’s kind of our core strength.” The company is hoping to provide a boost to the newly acquired brands. “Kamora looks tired, but makes a damn good white Russian,” England said. “Frankly, there has been no innovation on these brands for years, and we can make them more relevant.” The deal is expected to close on 1 December. The financial terms have not been disclosed. (BD)

Coca-Cola to gain full control of BodyArmor – Coca-Cola is buying the remaining stake that it does not own in BodyArmor for $5.6 billion in cash, reports Bloomberg. The beverages manufacturer will have full control of the sports drink brand, which will help it to take on major rival Gatorade. Coca-Cola bought its minority stake in BodyArmor in 2018. At the time, it called it “one of the fastest-growing beverage trademarks in America”. (BD)

Netflix latest retail collaboration is first in luxury fashion – Netflix has collaborated with French luxury fashion house Balmain to create its first luxury fashion collection for the new film, The Harder They Fall. The collection of menswear, womenswear and accessories is inspired by the Western genre and was launched this week to coincide with the film’s global release. Luxury fashion platform Farfetch will create 3D Instagram content alongside the collection, allowing fans to experience the film sets through social media before shopping the collection on its site. The release comes a week after it was announced that Netflix has teamed up with Bangkok retailer Carnival to offer a streetwear capsule based on a number of South Korean shows, including the hugely popular Squid Game. Netflix also collaborated with US fashion brand Halston earlier this year on a collection of gowns to celebrate the release of the Roy Halston Frowick biopic, Halston. Entertainment fans can expect more to come as the streaming giant branches further into fashion and retail. (VA)

Bed Bath & Beyond looks to bounce back with Kroger alliance – Bed Bath & Beyond will sell some of its bedding, storage and baby furniture via the Kroger website and dedicated mini shops at Kroger supermarkets beginning next year, the companies announced this week. Bed Bath & Beyond will also launch its own third-party marketplace online to expand its product range and complete a three-year $1 billion stock buyback programme two years ahead of schedule, the company claims. Bed Bath & Beyond has traded in volatile swings in recent months and has become a so-called ‘meme stock’, driven in part by support from Reddit fans, CNN reports. However, its stock surged by around 80% after the Kroger announcement. The company hopes that the partnership will help it to reach new customers and open new revenue opportunities after years of disappointing sales, store closures and recent supply chain issues. “Kroger represents a huge channel for Bed Bath & Beyond and can bring more shoppers into contact with the brand. This alone will help the company resolve one of its key issues: remaining on the consumer radar,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “Kroger itself needs to push beyond groceries and bolster its non-food business, so the partnership with Bed Bath & Beyond makes strategic sense,” Saunders added. The collaboration is the latest in a flurry of homeware-supermarket team ups. Earlier this week Gap launched its Gap Home Furniture range on, after the pair first joined forces on an exclusive home collection in June. (VA)

Office radar:

(For the latest coronavirus-related updates from national IP offices, please read our dedicated article, which is being continuously updated.)

EUIPO gears up for EU trademark API launch – The EUIPO is to publish its first beta version of the EUTM Filing API by the first quarter of next year. Over the past few months, the office has been working on the application programming interfaces (API) initiative, which will allow customers to integrate their IT systems with the EUIPO. Seven IP companies registered their interest to participate in a pilot project in the summer, with subsequent workshops taking place to guide future API improvements. The office states that users will have an opportunity to become familiar with the interface and start exploring its options once the beta version has been launched. (TL)

Domain Radar:

SSAD ODP to spill over into 2022 – ICANN now expects its Operational Design Phase (ODP) for the System for Standardised Access and Disclosure (SSAD) – which is designed to handle requests for WHOIS data – to run until the end of February 2022, reports Kevin Murphy on Domain Incite. However, Murphy also observes that the cost of having an identity verified as an SSAD user is around $10 to $20 but with the caveat that that cost – which would be renewable every two years – is the wholesale price. “The fee also would not include the likely per-query charge that users will have to pay to request the true personal data behind a redacted WHOIS record,” he writes. Thus, those in the IP community keen to know what an access system will look like and what it will cost must continue to wait and see. (TL)

Law firm radar:

Fenwick expands complex IP capabilities with Dechert and MoFo partner hires – Fenwick & West has announced the arrivals of Carl Morales and Rufus Pichler as partners in the firm’s IP practice. Their appointments in New York and San Francisco, respectively, further strengthen the firm’s complex transactional and commercial IP capabilities with a focus on key technology and life sciences. Former Dechert partner Morales counsels privately held and public pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies on patent strategies to maximise drug product exclusivity. Pichler, who spent more than two decades at Morrison & Foerster, advises technology and life sciences companies on a wide range of strategic and transactional matters, including complex patent licensing deals and IP aspects of domestic and cross-border M&A transactions. “We feel exceedingly proud to have Carl and Rufus join our thriving IP group,” said Fenwick IP practice chair Rajiv Patel. “Carl’s deep specialization in small molecule drug patents fills a long-standing need for our patent group. Rufus’s remarkable versatility with technologies and complex transactions is a tremendous addition to our technology transactions team and great value to our clients.” (VA)

In-house vacancies radar:

Anheuser-Busch seeks IP attorney to join legal team – Anheuser-Busch is advertising an associate general counsel IP role in its St Louis office. The successful candidate will have a strong background in trademark clearance, prosecution and IP litigation. The job involves some patent work, but the specifications state that experience in this field is a plus, rather than a requirement. The brewer is looking for a member of the Missouri Bar or someone who is willing to seek admission. (BD)

And finally...

WTR’s latest Special Report explores how to manage the brand balance sheet – The ability to measure and record brand value is crucial for a host of business reasons: to gain a 360-degree insight into an enterprise’s worth; to measure a company’s health or product offerings; to calculate licensing royalties; to determine potential reputational hits and damages in dispute scenarios; to underpin M&A decision making. The list goes on. WTR’s latest Special Report takes a deep dive into brand valuation, the reporting of intangibles and strategic best practice for brand leaders. As well as tracking recent developments in the industry and presenting a guide to the fundamentals of valuation practice, we focus in on key trends, the companies that own the most valuable brands and their financial performance. In addition, we present a rundown of the most valuable brand acquisitions since 2000. WTR subscribers can access ”Managing the brand balance sheet” here.

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