Trending Trademarks

With Victory Over MTM, Amazon Can Still Use Brand Name Searches

Posted by Valerie Sussman on October 28, 2015 at 10:02 AM

When shopping for watches on Amazon.com, you might be surprised to find that a search for the luxury military-style watch “mtm special ops” brings you to a list of watches designed by competitors of Multi Time Machine, Inc. (MTM). According to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, this practice does not infringe on MTM’s trademark rights.

The 9th Circuit appellate panel reversed its own decision In Multi Time Machine, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc.; Amazon Services, LLC, published last Wednesday. In issuing summary judgment in favor of Amazon, the court held that no reasonable trier of fact could conclude that a likelihood of confusion existed based on the layout of Amazon’s search results page.

From the watchmaker’s perspective, Amazon’s search results created “initial interest confusion” that generated awareness of competitors’ products. Initial interest confusion may damage sales by taking advantage of a trademark’s good will and thus could create a cause of action for trademark infringement. MTM asserted that such confusion was even more likely because Amazon’s search results page did not include a message such as “no search results found” to suggest (accurately) that it does not sell MTM watches.

The court concluded that there was no likelihood of initial interest confusion because the non-MTM watches were “clearly labeled by Amazon” such that a “reasonably prudent customer accustomed to online shopping” would not be deceived. The court reasoned that the buyer could see clear images of the watches next to the boldly-lettered brand name (which Amazon opportunely included two times next to each product – for example, “Luminox Men’s 8401 Black Ops Watch by Luminox”). Even a couple of books appeared in the search results for “mtm special ops,” which as noted by the court, made it even less likely that a reasonably prudent online shopper would be confused.

Because the decision does not forbid online retailers from using proprietary product names as keyword terms, it seems likely that Amazon and other online marketplaces will continue to capitalize on brand name searches. Still, consumers seeking to purchase an authentic MTM watch should be advised that they will not find it on Amazon.

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Topics: Internet, Trademark, Litigation, Decisions, Consumer Products

PETA Thinks Monkeys Can Own Copyrights

Posted by Lawrence Robins on September 24, 2015 at 6:11 AM

Last August we wrote about a dispute between photographer David Slater and the Wikemedia Foundation over what is known as “The Monkey Selfie.” Because we’re brave, the photo appears again in this post. At that time, the Copyright Office released a public draft of the Third Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, in which it took the explicit position that photographs taken by monkeys are not copyrightable subject matter because they are not “the fruits of intellectual labor that are founded by the creative powers of the mind.”

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Topics: technology, Infringement, Internet, Copyright

The New Google Logo: A New Kind of Mark for the Digital Era

Posted by Mitchell Stein on September 8, 2015 at 11:11 AM

On September 1, 2015 Google revealed to the world its first major logo update in 16 years. The iconic Google word mark has been transformed to a new image, using Google’s new proprietary "Product Sans" font:

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Topics: Internet, Trademark, Multimedia

#Registered - U.S.

Posted by Natalie Lederman on February 2, 2015 at 9:00 AM

As a follow-up to our January post, “#Hashingitout: Is It Worth Registering A Hashtag?” I was interviewed by LexisNexis about the registration of hashtags. The interview was published in an article, “#Registered - U.S.,” in Lexis PSL IP & IT.

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Topics: technology, Infringement, Internet, Trademark, Food & Beverage, Registrations, Multimedia, Consumer Products

#Hashingitout: Is It Worth Registering A Hashtag?

Posted by Natalie Lederman on January 9, 2015 at 6:33 AM

Recently, the Coca-Cola Company sought to register two hashtags as trademarks: #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke. For those who may wonder why: various online social networking services (like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name a few) enable users to search a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) to identify postings on a specific topic. Hashtags are used to promote brands, campaigns, ideas or events, and trending topics can be identified by frequency of use in their respective online communities.

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Topics: technology, Internet, Trademark, Multimedia, Consumer Products

Better Late Than Never – 20+ Years After the Popularization of the Worldwide Web, a Court Finally Recognizes Trade Dress Rights in Website Design

Posted by Michael Palmisciano on October 16, 2014 at 12:30 PM

A website’s distinctive appearance, layout, and design qualities—its “look and feel”—are often the most important and effective tools with which a company can make a first impression on consumers and market its brand. Now, according to one federal court, companies can use trademark law to protect their unique website designs from imitators.

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Topics: trade dress, Internet, Litigation

No, Your Musical Cat and Artistic Dog Aren't Going to Make You Rich

Posted by Lawrence Robins on August 26, 2014 at 12:11 PM

The plight of David Slater, a British nature photographer, has recently been in the news. Mr. Slater travelled to Indonesia in 2011 in order to photograph the crested black macaque. During the shoot, one of the animals “stole” Slater’s Nikon camera and started playing with it. Remarkably, the monkey ended up taking several “selfies,” one of which turned out strikingly clear. Because of what happened subsequently we feel like we’re on safe ground in reproducing the photo here:

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Topics: Internet, Copyright, Multimedia

IP Traps in Crowdfunding Proposals

Posted by Lawrence Robins on August 19, 2014 at 9:19 AM

The 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) opened the door to widespread use of crowdfunding for financing new projects and ideas. As a result of the JOBS Act, the use of crowdfunding platforms has increased exponentially. If you are considering a crowdfunding platform for your new venture, or if you are contemplating investing in a crowd-funded project, attention to intellectual property protection is critical. Here are a few simple ideas to keep in mind:

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Topics: technology, Internet, Registrations, Licensing

Las Vegas Sands Goes “All In” Against Online Trademark Infringement

Posted by Michael Palmisciano on July 15, 2014 at 6:53 AM

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (“Sands”), the international casino and hotel giant, is one of the most famous gaming brands in the world. To protect its famous mark from infringing uses, Sands recently left the casino and took to the internet.

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Topics: Internet, Litigation, Multimedia

Video Interview with LXBN TV: Discussing Amazon's Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Posted by Michael Palmisciano on May 8, 2014 at 5:50 AM

Following the post, "Amazon’s Red Hot Video Streaming Service Under Fire," I had the opportunity to speak with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN regarding the trademark infringement lawsuit.

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Topics: technology, Infringement, Internet, Litigation, Consumer Products

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Trending Trademarks provides comments and analysis on trademark issues affecting the fashion, high-tech, multimedia and consumer products industries.

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