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22 June 2009

US court issues landmark parallel imports decision

A US court has ruled that unique product codes are protected under trademark law. It is a landmark decision in the fight against counterfeit and grey-market goods.

19 June 2009

White House announces new USPTO director

The White House has announced President Obama's intention to nominate the "eminently qualified" David Kappos as director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

18 June 2009

TTAB re-examines confusion criteria for word marks in Spanish

In Brown Shoe Co v Robbins, the TTAB has held that an application to register the word 'palomita' (Spanish for 'little dove') as a trademark for “shirts, pants, shoes and hats” was barred by two prior registrations for the word 'paloma' (Spanish for 'dove') for use in connection with clothing and footwear. The opinion also shows that proving fraudulent misuse of the ® symbol remains difficult.

17 June 2009

Eight-year delay bars claim that REDSKINS mark disparages Native Americans

In Pro Football Inc v Harjo, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has affirmed the lower court’s judgment in favour of Pro Football Inc on the grounds that laches barred the plaintiffs’ claim that Pro Football's REDSKINS mark should be cancelled. The decision demonstrates that evidence of investment in a mark can be afforded significant weight for the purposes of determining prejudice.

16 June 2009

Trademarks and tweets: brand protection on Twitter

With 6 million users each month, Twitter has soared into the internet big league. But a recent trademark infringement lawsuit filed against the social networking phenomenon has got brand owners talking (or, if you will, tweeting). WTR investigates whether Twitter poses a threat to IP rights and how brand owners should react to suspected infringement.

11 June 2009

TTAB re-designates Zanella v Nordstrom fraud decision as precedential

In an atypical move that will be welcomed by registrants, the TTAB has re-designated its October 2008 decision in Zanella Ltd v Nordstrom Inc from non-precedential to precedential. The issue in this case was whether fraud (or the filing of a factually incorrect application or affidavit) in the USPTO can be “cured” and the registration perfected after the trademark application matures into a registration.

09 June 2009

TTAB refuses to read limitations into cited registration

In In re Thor Tech Inc, the TTAB has affirmed the USPTO's refusal to register the trademark WAVE for recreational vehicles on the grounds that it was likely to cause confusion with the registered mark THE WAVE for trailers. The TTAB refused to read limitations into the cited registration, as requested by Thor Tech Inc, pointing out that it must look only at the goods or services set forth in a registration.

02 June 2009

Taser's suit against owner of Second Life dismissed

Taser International Inc's suit against Linden Research for use of the TASER mark on Second Life has been voluntarily dismissed. The case illustrates the fact that trademark owners may no longer be able to ignore the extensive unauthorized commercial use of their intellectual property in virtual worlds such as Second Life.

28 May 2009

Patriots' owner fumbles registration of 19-0 THE PERFECT SEASON

In Kraft Group LLC v Harpole, the TTAB has ruled that the owner of the New England Patriots had failed to show that its application for the mark 19-0 THE PERFECT SEASON had priority over William Harpole’s application for the same mark. Among other things, the TTAB rejected the argument that the effective filing date of Harpole’s application should be the date on which it was amended to seek registration on the Principal Register.

22 May 2009

US wineries in trademark battle with EU

Hundreds of US wine makers have urged the US government to take action to prevent the European Union from forcing them to stop using long-established brands on imports into Europe.

22 May 2009

Stitch designs are not “identical or nearly identical”, says court

In Levi Strauss & Co v Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co, the US District Court for the Northern District of California has held that the use of a design on denim jeans that was not “identical or nearly identical” to another design did not constitute trademark dilution. The decision affirms the Ninth Circuit’s stringent standard in the context of trademark dilution claims under the Trademark Dilution Revision Act.

20 May 2009

Third time is a (partial) charm for Bayer

In Bayer Consumer Care AG v Belmora LLC, the TTAB has partially granted Belmora LLC’s motion to dismiss Bayer Consumer Care AG’s petition to cancel the mark FLANAX for analgesics. Bayer’s third attempt to plead likelihood of confusion with its FLANAX mark for analgesics was rejected for failure to plead use in the United States. However, the TTAB held that Bayer’s claim of misrepresentation of source was sufficiently pled.

18 May 2009

THE MONTECITO DIET is not primarily geographically descriptive, says TTAB

In In re Roy J Mankovitz, the TTAB has re-examined the criteria required to determine whether a mark is primarily geographically descriptive. In particular, the TTAB considered whether residence by the applicant in the geographical area referenced in the proposed mark was sufficient to establish a goods/place relationship in support of a refusal to register.

15 May 2009

Geographic misdescriptiveness standard clarified in MOSKOVSKAYA Case

In In re Spirits International NV, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has vacated a decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in which the latter had found the mark MOSKOVSKAYA to be primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive of vodka. The court clarified the materiality prong of the geographic misdescriptiveness test under 15 USC §1052(e)(3).

13 May 2009

Spirits International loses US rights to RUSSKAYA mark

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has cancelled the RUSSKAYA mark registration owned by Spirits International BV based on abandonment. The board's decision should serve to remind registrants of both the importance of use of the mark in the United States and the need to have and produce documents proving use, or proving intent to resume use, as well as valid justification for non-use.