Trending Trademarks

Update on Varsity Brands et al v. Star Athletica

Posted by Lawrence Robins on November 2, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Back in September 2015, we wrote about Varsity Brands et al. v. Star Athletica after the Sixth Circuit ruled that the decorative chevron designs on cheerleading uniforms are eligible for copyright protection

The case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on October 31. Sullivan & Worcester Partner Larry Robins weighed in on the implications of the case in the recent Bloomberg BNA Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal article below. 

Read Bloomberg BNA Article

Read about the Sixth Circuit Decision


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Topics: Sports, Supreme Court, Copyright, Litigation, Decisions, Fashion, Consumer Products

Fowling Proprietor Gets Bonked -- Lessons in Avoiding Loss of Trademark Rights

Posted by Lawrence Robins on April 15, 2016 at 2:24 PM

Will Rogers once said “Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.”  While he surely didn’t intend it that way, this is sage advice to incipient trademark owners. Consider, if you will, the “sport” of Fowling. 

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Topics: trademarks, Sports, USPTO

Rah-Rah-©-Boom-Bah! Cheerleading Uniform Designs Win Copyright Protection

Posted by Natalie Lederman on September 3, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Though the U.S. Copyright Act does not currently offer protection for functional aspects of apparel designs, copyright protection does extend to purely decorative features of clothing that can exist independent of their functional aspects. This murky area of copyright law, known as the “Conceptual Separability Doctrine”, was the focus of a recent decision by the Sixth Circuit in Varsity Brands et al. v. Star Athletica. The court ruled that the decorative chevron designs on cheerleading uniforms are eligible for copyright protection.

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Topics: Sports, Copyright, Litigation, Decisions, Fashion, Consumer Products

Perhaps the Door to Registration of Scandalous and Smutty Trademarks Will Remain Closed After All, At Least to the Washington Redskins

Posted by Lawrence Robins on July 8, 2015 at 9:47 AM

Back in April, my colleague Mike Palmisciano published a blog post noting the decision of the Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit to rehear In re Tam en banc in order to address the sole issue of whether the bar to registration of disparaging marks in 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a) violates the First Amendment. Mike noted that a decision that Section 2(a) does violate the First Amendment would open the door to registration (or maintenance) of marks such as REDSKINS, KHORAN, and SQUAW VALLEY. Now it appears that Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia may have knocked out the First Amendment argument once and for all.

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Topics: Sports, Trademark, Litigation

USPTO Cancels Washington Redskins’ Trademarks, Says Name Is Disparaging to Native Americans

Posted by Michael Palmisciano on June 18, 2014 at 3:25 PM

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.

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Topics: Sports, Registrations, TTAB Proceedings

You Can’t Rip Off CrossFit

Posted by Michael Palmisciano on April 18, 2014 at 5:19 AM

CrossFit, Inc., the high-intensity fitness company with a reputation for diligently protecting its trademarks, has been pursuing a seemingly routine infringement action against a Chelmsford, MA gym for nearly a year. Recently, however, the case took an unexpected turn when a CrossFit executive was revealed as the voice behind the CrossFit Ripoff Report (the “Ripoff Report”), a website devoted to identifying—and advising its readers to avoid—gyms that advertise CrossFit training but are not licensed CrossFit affiliates.

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Topics: Sports, Infringement, Internet, Litigation

Make Way for Johnny Football: Heisman Winner One Step Closer To Registering His Mark

Posted by Natalie Lederman on March 27, 2014 at 1:59 PM

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.

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Topics: Sports, Registrations, TTAB Proceedings

USPTO Rejects Trademark Application for Disparaging Phrase "Redskins Hog Rinds"

Posted by Laura Stacey on January 16, 2014 at 7:04 AM

The USPTO recently issued an Office Action refusing trademark registration for the trademark “REDSKINS HOG RINDS” for use in connection with pork rinds. The examiner cited Trademark Act Section 2(a) as the basis of the refusal, stating that the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols. The decision further cited no less than five dictionary definitions of the word “Redskins” which refer to the name as either offensive, slang, disparaging or taboo.

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Topics: Sports, Food & Beverage, Registrations

Video Interview: Discussing the "Revis Island" Trademark with LXBN TV

Posted by Natalie Lederman on October 25, 2013 at 5:58 AM

Following up on my recent post on the matter, I had the opportunity to speak with Colin O'Keefe of LXBN on Darrelle Revis finally succeeding in trademarking "Revis Island." In the brief video interview, I explain why it took so long and what athletes should do in situations like this.

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Topics: Sports, Registrations

I Am An Island: Darrelle Revis’s Mark (Finally) Gets Registered

Posted by Natalie Lederman on October 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM

But Given The Delay, Why Would An Athlete Even Bother?

Over three years after filing for its registration, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis was finally awarded trademark protection for the mark “Revis Island” by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The mark came about because of Revis’s ability to singly shut down opposing receivers without help from other defenders, in other words, alone on his own proverbial desert island.

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Topics: Sports, Registrations

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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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