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02 December 2009

Personal names are inherently distinctive, says TTAB

In Brooks v Creative Arts By Calloway LLC, in a precedential decision, the TTAB has upheld an opposition filed by Christopher Brooks, the grandson of the late band leader Cab Calloway, against the registration of the mark CAB CALLOWAY by Creative Arts By Calloway LLC. In doing so, the TTAB ruled that personal names are inherently distinctive.

01 December 2009

Data war: the creep of private sector trademark searches

With the development of the USPTO's website and online trademark database progressing at a slow pace, and the availability of trademark databases around the world by and large inadequate, WTR asks whether trademark managers will instead turn to trademark search websites built by the private sector.

27 November 2009

First Amendment not a defence to infringement by innuendo, says court

In Pfizer Inc v Sachs, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York has granted Pfizer Inc's motion for summary judgment on its trademark infringement and dilution claims against an advertiser who had used the VIVA VIAGRA mark on a decommissioned missile. The court found that the advertiser's use of VIVA VIAGRA was not protected under the First Amendment.

26 November 2009

CAPRI COLLECTIONS for tiles hits brick wall

In In re GBI Tile and Stone Inc, the TTAB has refused to register the mark CAPRI COLLECTIONS for floor tiles on the grounds that there was a likelihood of confusion with the earlier mark CAPRI for roofing tiles. The applicant's evidence showing that there were third-party registrations for floor tiles that did not include roofing tiles was not found persuasive.

24 November 2009

USPTO pledges web search consultation

The US commissioner of trademarks has outlined plans to seek further public comment on the development of the USPTO website and search function.

20 November 2009

TTAB provides explicit requirements for pleading fraud claims post-Bose

In Western Classics BV v Selkow, in a precedential decision, the TTAB has set forth the proper elements for pleading fraud following the decision of the Federal Circuit in In re Bose Corp. The TTAB stated that any pleading of fraud on information and belief must set forth the facts on which the belief is premised.

17 November 2009

Vodka and wine are unrelated, says TTAB

In In re White Rock Distilleries Inc, the TTAB has reversed a Section 2(d) refusal to register the mark VOLTA for “energy vodka”, finding that confusion was unlikely with the registered trademark TERZA VOLTA for wine. Among other things, the TTAB found that the examining attorney had failed to establish that energy vodka and wine are related goods.

17 November 2009

Supreme Court throws out REDSKINS dispute

The US Supreme Court has dismissed the hotly contested REDSKINS Case.

17 November 2009

Cuban revolution: post-embargo brand management

The US administration may have its hands full tackling economic and military challenges, but experts predict that it will soon turn its focus to Cuba and may even fulfil Obama's promise to ease the longstanding embargo. WTR investigates the opportunities and threats that this would present for US brand owners.

13 November 2009

Trademarks at the centre of latest US-Cuba spat

A US court is set to hear a case in which the plaintiffs are attempting to seize control of trademarks owned by the Cuban government, WTR has learnt. The news comes as commentators predict better relations between Cuba and the United States under President Obama.

11 November 2009

Pennsylvania's Trademark Counterfeiting Statute held to be unconstitutional

In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v Omar, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has affirmed a trial court decision in which the latter had held that the Trademark Counterfeiting Statute violated the First Amendment. Among other things, the Supreme Court held that the statute prohibited a substantial amount of protected speech and was thus unconstitutional.

10 November 2009

Summary judgment vacated in reverse confusion case

In The Great American Restaurant Co v Domino’s Pizza LLC, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has vacated a decision of the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in which it was held that the name Brooklyn Style Pizza was generic. Among other things, the Fifth Circuit stated that there was evidence indicating that there is no such thing as a 'Brooklyn-style pizza'.

27 October 2009

Request for multiple statutory damages award denied

In Tu v TAD System Technology Inc, the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York has held that a plaintiff is not entitled to multiple statutory damages awards for violations of the Copyright Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Lanham Act. In doing so, the court took a position opposite of that taken by the Ninth Circuit.

23 October 2009

TTAB applies Bose to motion for summary judgment on fraud claim

In Enbridge Inc v Excelerate Energy Limited Partnership, the TTAB has denied a motion for summary judgment on a fraud claim applying, for the first time, the fraud standard set out in the Federal Circuit’s decision in In re Bose Corp. The TTAB found that there were material facts in dispute as to whether the applicant intended to deceive the USPTO when it claimed use of its mark for services that it did not offer.

20 October 2009

Open season: trademark protection in outsourced software development

The multibillion-dollar computer industry may be all-powerful but a high proportion of its products are developed under open source licences by external programmers. As software and web development is increasingly dependent on outside coders, WTR asks: how do big brand owners such as Google manage to retain control over their trademarks?