Not long ago a colleague brought to my attention a “mea culpa” published on the Down The Road Beer Company website, www.downtheroadbrewery.com. Apparently the brewery ran into a bit of trouble with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the federal agency tasked with, among other things, policing product labeling for products containing alcohol. In designing a label for its “Down The Road Rasenmäher Kölsch,” the brewery broke the rules by depicting the character “Hans Mowermann” operating a power lawn mower while holding up a large mug of, presumably, Down The Road Rasenmäher Kölsch. As we all (should) know, operating machinery while under the influence of alcohol ist verboten!
In a long-awaited move, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is set to consider whether the Lanham Act’s Section 2(a) bar to registration of disparaging marks violates the First Amendment.
Recently, the maker of Red Bull energy drinks filed a notice of opposition against Old Ox Brewery’s trademark registration application, arguing that registration should be denied due to likelihood of confusion. The opposition reasons that oxen and bulls “both fall within the same class of ‘bovine’ animals and are virtually indistinguishable to most consumers.”
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.
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:
On July 18th a U.K. judge ruled that Twentieth Century Fox Films must change the name of its television show, “Glee”, because it infringes the name of a chain of British comedy clubs named “The Glee Club.” The judge ruled in favor of the clubs on the theory of “wrong way round” confusion, which is known as “reverse confusion” in U.S. jurisprudence. Traditionally, courts address likelihood of confusion in trademark cases by determining whether customers mistake the junior user’s products as coming from the same source as those of the senior user. Reverse confusion, on the other hand, arises when the junior user so saturates the market with advertising and other promotion of its mark that the consuming public comes to believe that the senior user’s products come from the same source as those of the junior user. Fox’s promotion and broadcast of “Glee” in the UK market was apparently so overwhelming that the judge believed that consumers were likely to believe that the comedy clubs were also Fox businesses.
In a precedential opinion, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the "TTAB") today ruled that the petitioners in Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc. established by a preponderance of the evidence that the term "redskins" is disparaging to Native Americans and cancelled six registered trademarks owned by the Washington Redskins football team.
In a recent letter to the USPTO, Google has signaled that it will continue its fight to register the word “Glass” as a trademark for its innovative “Google Glass” product, the wearable electronic smart glasses.
In honor of Johnny Manziel’s pro day, there’s something for the Texas A&M star to celebrate. Just last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected an application made by an entity unaffiliated with Manziel for the mark JOHNNY FOOTBALL, paving the way for Manziel’s application to proceed.