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11 March 2016

Applicant of 'disparaging' CHINK PROUD mark plans to re-apply following In re Tam decision

The USPTO has confirmed to World Trademark Review that it is considering suspending trademark applications that would previously be refused as disparaging as it awaits the Supreme Court review of In re Tam. In light of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision in December, which ruled that the prohibition on disparaging marks is unconstitutional, a US resident has also revealed he is interested in re-applying for a trademark that was previously refused on those grounds in 2013.

08 March 2016

New legislation enhances US Customs and Border Protection’s enforcement of IP rights

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act 2015 contains provisions strengthening trademark and copyright enforcement mechanisms and creates a new agency called the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre.

12 February 2016

Politics and trademark law collide as congressional hearing focuses on Havana Club dispute

In our previous coverage of the dispute over the Havana Club brand, we noted that the resumption of legal proceedings would make the US Federal District Court the key battleground. However, following a combative US House of Representatives hearing on confiscated property in Cuba, it is clear that it remains a hot-button issue in political circles.

14 January 2016

USPTO accused of harassment by prolific trademark filer

The founder of The Trademark Company has commenced legal action against the USPTO and the Office of Enrolment and Discipline (OED), alleging that his constitutional rights have been violated by an OED investigation into his trademark-related work.

08 January 2016

FTC issues guidance on native advertising, but enforcement actions will tell the real story

The Federal Trade Commission has issued an enforcement policy statement clarifying its approach to deceptively formatted advertisements. The long-awaited guidance on native advertising is welcome, although it remains to be seen just how impactful it will be in practice.

01 January 2016

Pay to play – why the USPTO is steering applicants away from federal district court

While recent cost-cutting initiatives may be behind the US Patent and Trademark Office actively steering ex parte appeals of dissatisfied applicants away from federal district court, where does this leave those who are still pursuing a registration?

29 October 2015

As filing numbers fall, academic calls for abolishment of US state trademark registrations

A US law professor has told World Trademark Review that the abolition of state trademark registrations in the United States would “clarify the legal landscape for trademark acquisition and enforcement”. Additional research reveals that demand for US state trademarks is trending downwards. However, imminent change seems unlikely.

08 July 2015

New blow for Redskins brand as court rules on constitutionality of Section 2(a) of Lanham Act

The District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has delivered another blow to the Washington Redskins, denying Pro Football Inc’s challenge to the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment and confirming that the REDSKINS marks should be removed from the USPTO’s principal register. However, Judge Gerald Bruce Lee was keen to emphasise that the team can continue to use the marks in commerce.

28 April 2015

“Shock” court move on disparaging marks could significantly change trademark practice

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is to consider whether the federal government’s treatment of ‘disparaging’ marks violates the First Amendment. The move, issued as the court vacated last week’s decision on the rejection of a trademark application by Asian American band The Slants, has been labelled a “shock” by the band’s attorney.

09 April 2015

Predicting the future of the Redskins brand

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.

30 March 2015

Marijuana brands left high and dry by US trademark restrictions

With the legalisation of marijuana gaining momentum across the United States, a new multi-billion dollar industry is growing at a startling rate. Nonetheless, there are strict restrictions on the registration of trademarks for marijuana products at national level, meaning that companies in this sector are struggling to protect their brands.

04 February 2015

Political pressure builds over Redskins name as new legislation introduced

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.

15 December 2014

A year at the USPTO – the trademark perspective

The USPTO has published its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for financial year (FY) 2014, with trademark operations getting a clear thumbs up.

21 November 2014

Huawei aims to build its US brand… with an unlikely partner

When Huawei and the Washington Redskins jointly announced a sponsorship and technology deal last month, commentators puzzled at the partnership between two businesses facing serious image problems. There are undeniable ironies at play but, for the Chinese telecoms giant, its first US sports sponsorship may be an early step in a much broader initiative to build its profile among US consumers, and highlights how such activities can help Chinese brands make a splash in the US market.