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09 October 2012

It’s not easy being green as USPTO takes tougher line on eco-friendly claims

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has revised its guidelines on marketing environmentally friendly products and services. While the FTC rulebook will help the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to combat applicants attempting to mislead consumers, brand owners with genuine green claims will also have to be mindful of the shift in examination practice.

25 July 2012

Seventh Circuit sheds light on trademark licensees' rights in bankruptcy cases

In Sunbeam Products Inc v Chicago American Manufacturing LLC, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has issued an important decision regarding the effect a trademark licensor’s bankruptcy has on a trademark licensee’s ability to sell products bearing the licensed trademark. The decision creates a split among the US circuits on this issue.

16 July 2012

Tenth Circuit affirms dismissal of cybersquatting claim on Bruce Lee mark

In Hargrave v Chief Asian LLC, the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has affirmed the sua sponte dismissal of Carter Hargrave’s pro se trademark infringement claim since he was not the registered owner of the trademark JEET KUNE DO, but a non-exclusive licensee who had no right to assert the claim. Jeet Kune Do is a martial arts discipline created and popularised by Bruce Lee in the 1960s.

19 June 2012

Federal Court of Appeal confirms that delegation of control is permissible

In Spirits International BV v BCF SENCRL, the Federal Court of Appeal has provided trademark owners with some insight into the quality of evidence of control required for use of a trademark by a licensee to accrue to the owner’s benefit when control is exercised indirectly. The decision affirms the position taken by the Federal Court that a trademark owner can delegate the function of control to a related company.

15 May 2012

Pernod Ricard goes on the offensive after Supreme Court blow

No sooner had the US Supreme Court refused to review the decision of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia which prevented the renewal of Pernod Ricard’s HAVANA CLUB trademark registration in the United States, than the multinational drinks company came out fighting – unveiling a new brand for its Cuban-produced rum.

03 February 2012

Struggling to stand out – the identity challenge facing automotive brands

The perceived difference between the top car brands and their challengers is lessening, according to new research. Focused wholly on US consumers’ brand perception, rather than automotive quality, the research highlights the challenges facing auto industry companies in differentiating their offering.

19 January 2012

FCA affirms ways to evidence control over character or quality of goods

In Shapiro Cohen v Cubatabaco, the Federal Court of Appeal has confirmed that there are various ways in which a trademark owner which has licensed the use of its trademark can prove that it has control over the character or quality of the goods/services offered in association with the mark. The case is an important reminder to owners of Canadian trademarks that there are very specific Canadian licensing requirements.

16 November 2011

Seller of GEORGE FOREMAN marks down for the count on breach of contract claims

In Perlmutter v Russell Hobbs Inc, a breach of contract dispute over the sale of GEORGE FOREMAN trademarks, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled against the plaintiff, concluding that no breach of contract took place and that all remaining claims were waived.

24 October 2011

Lessons in licensing: course of conduct might trump your trademark rights

A contract dispute between Dr Pepper Snapple and the Dr Pepper Bottling Company of Dublin, Texas, has been framed as a David v Goliath story, but behind this narrative lies a straightforward trademark licensing dispute - one that highlights the tension between a trademark owner’s right to control its mark through licensing and the parties’ course of dealing.

21 September 2011

Alleged trademark sub-licence is assignable in bankruptcy

In In re XMH Corp, considering the fate to befall certain trademarks upon an owner’s bankruptcy, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Court has determined that a trademark licence is not assignable without the owner’s express permission or in the absence of a clause explicitly authorising assignment, and that a trademark licence cannot be implied from a contract for services.

14 July 2011

What will AB InBev do with city dialling code trademarks?

Here’s a story from the ‘innovative filing strategy’ department. Beer behemoth Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev has confirmed the news reported in local US press that it has applied to register 15 city dialling codes as trademarks. The filings come not three months after the conglomerate acquired Goose Island microbrewery, famous in Chicago for its Urban Wheat Ale, known in the Windy City by local dialling code 312. So what can we discern from AB InBev’s apparent expansion of this brand strategy?

04 July 2011

Disney entitled to summary judgment based on collateral estoppel

In Stephen Slesinger Inc v Disney Enterprises Inc, in a precedential opinion, the TTAB has found that Disney was entitled to summary judgment based on collateral estoppel. The dispute stemmed from poorly drafted transfer and contractual documents concerning the ownership of the trademarks derived from Winnie-the-Pooh and other characters.

30 June 2011

Licensee barred from asserting naked licensing by licensee estoppel doctrine

In John C Flood of Va Inc v John C Flood Inc, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has affirmed the district court’s decision in a long-running trademark dispute between two companies using virtually identical marks on identical services in overlapping geographical areas.

10 June 2011

Bridal shop loses trademark rights due to naked licensing

In Eva’s Bridal Ltd v Halanick Enter Inc, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has held that the plaintiff, a bridal clothing business, did not exercise sufficient quality control over services rendered under its trademarks to survive an abandonment challenge, despite the fact that it had no reason to doubt the standards employed by its licensee.

08 June 2011

The new challenge to traditional trademark filing practices

Unconventional trademark prosecution practices are overtaking traditional law firms. That’s according to the table of top USPTO trademark filing firms for 2010, due to be published in WTR later this month. The fact that the firm of Californian attorney Raj Abhyanker has hit the top spot, filing more than 4,000 marks in one year, is causing controversy among trademark circles.