Trending Trademarks

In Mile-High Trademark Infringement Fight, Hershey Bests Colorado Marijuana Edibles Company

Posted by Michael Palmisciano on October 29, 2014 at 6:33 AM

Just in time for Halloween, the Hershey Company has settled its trademark infringement lawsuit against a marijuana edibles company that sold candy closely resembling several of Hershey’s iconic brands.

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Topics: trade dress, Litigation, Food & Beverage, Dilution

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

Unilever Sets Off Firecrakers, Suing To Protect Trade Dress Of Its Frozen Treats

Posted by Natalie Lederman on April 1, 2014 at 5:07 PM

With summer just around the corner (fingers crossed!), it looks like Unilever wants to freeze out any customer confusion that may arise at ice cream trucks around the country. On Monday, the consumer goods giant sued Wells Enterprises in New York Federal District Court claiming that Wells’s newly-designed Bomb Pops packaging “mimics and imitates” Unilever’s Firecracker Popsicle packaging, resulting in a claim of trade dress infringement. Unilever also alleged unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

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Topics: Infringement, trade dress, Litigation, Food & Beverage

Lindt Loses Its Golden Easter Bunny Battle

Posted by Natalie Lederman on April 1, 2013 at 8:41 AM

For the last 13 years, Zurich confectioner Lindt has been at war with German chocolatier Confiserie Riegelein in an effort to prevent it from selling similarly gold-foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies. The battle, which began in 2000, ended this past Thursday when Germany’s Federal Court of Justice rejected Lindt’s final appeal to protect its popular holiday treat, the Goldbunny. The decision determined that it was not legally possible to trademark a gold-foil-wrapped chocolate bunny that had been in general use for decades, even though Lindt has been selling Goldbunnies since 1952.

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Topics: Infringement, trade dress, Litigation, Food & Beverage

Apple Trademarks Store Look and Lay-Out

Posted by Jennifer Major on February 2, 2013 at 6:57 AM

It comes as no surprise that Apple owns numerous trademarks for its well-known Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and other products. However, Apple has taken its trademark protection to a new level by obtaining a registration for the look and lay-out of its unique glass stores.

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Topics: technology, trade dress, Registrations

Candy Bar Wars Part II – Nestlé Wins Battle to Protect Unique Shape of KitKat Bars

Posted by Laura Stacey on January 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM

A few months ago we wrote a blog post on Nestlé’s battle with Kraft over the unique purple color of Cadbury chocolate bar wrappers. While Nestlé lost the battle over color, it recently won the battle over shape.

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Topics: Infringement, trade dress, Litigation, Food & Beverage

Cadbury Reigns Supreme over Nestle in Royal Purple Ruling

Posted by Jennifer Major on October 4, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Ending a trademark battle between candy competitors Kraft and Nestle, an English High Court on Tuesday granted UK chocolate company Cadbury (acquired by Kraft in 2010) the exclusive rights to use Pantone 2865c, the unique purple color of its chocolate bar wrappers.

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Topics: Infringement, trade dress, Litigation, Food & Beverage

U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit Affirms that Single Colors Can Be Protected in the Fashion Industry

Posted by Mitchell Stein on September 12, 2012 at 4:36 PM

In a decision eagerly awaited by both the fashion industry and the trademark bar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on September 5, 2012 in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America Holding, Inc., No. 11-3303-cv, that fashion designer Christian Louboutin could protect its distinctive lacquered red shoe soles as a trademark, but that competitor Yves Saint-Laurent’s monochromatic red shoes did not use, and therefore did not infringe, Louboutin’s trademark. Both sides claimed victory. Louboutin claimed vindication in that the appellate court recognized Louboutin’s trademark rights in its red lacquered sole, and overturned the lower’s ruling that effectively barred trademark protection for single colors in the fashion industry. Yves St. Laurent (“YSL”) claimed victory, noting that the appellate court found that YSL’s shoes did not infringe Louboutin’s trademarks, and that YSL would now be free to continue selling its monochromatic red shoes.

So, everyone’s a winner, right?

Not really. The big loser remains the fashion industry in general, for which this decision provides little guidance in a very muddled area of the law.

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Topics: Infringement, trade dress, Litigation, Fashion

Successfully Defending the Brand: Gucci’s Copycat Bagged

Posted by Kimberly Herman on August 21, 2012 at 3:10 PM

The Italian luxury goods company Gucci recently found some success in policing its trademark in the form of a $4.66 million pay out from Guess Inc. after making a U.S. District Judge believe that Guess had "Gucci-ized" its brand by knocking off a host of items including shoes. The $4.66 million windfall is a fraction of the more than $120 million originally sought by the Italian luxury goods company in their trademark infringement suit.

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Topics: Infringement, trade dress, Litigation, Fashion

In Fashion Law, Design Protection Looks for the Right Pattern

Posted by Natalie Lederman on August 1, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Despite the financial and creative success of the U.S. fashion industry, U.S. courts struggle to provide adequate protection for fashion designs, although promising legislation is pending in Congress.

Currently, U.S. trademark law will protect a design only if it serves a branding function (for example, the famous Burberry plaid), and U.S. copyright law, which protects creative works, typically does not protect fashion designs because copyright does not protect “useful articles,” and designs are often intrinsic to the “useful” nature of the apparel. U.S. design patent law requires that a design be “novel” and “nonobvious” based on prior designs, which is a very difficult standard to achieve. Like copyright, design patent law will not protect functional elements, a concept that is broadly construed when it comes to the fashion industry.

Over the past several years, various cases have illustrated the difficulties fashion houses face in protecting their designs. (For example, see our post on Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc.) There is some hope for designers, though, as Congress has not been completely blind to the need for federal design protection laws.

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Topics: trade dress, Copyright, Registrations, Fashion

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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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