Archive for December, 2014

Top Trademark TrendsSM of 2014

By Erik M. Pelton & Associates® – The Nontraditional Trademark Lawyers®

Once again, trademarks and pop culture collided frequently in 2014. For example, more than 50 “JOHNNY ____” applications were filed this year as quarterback Johnny Manziel was drafted by the Cleveland Browns including JOHNNY MAN’Z ALE, JOHNNY CLEVELAND, JOHNNY HOCKEY, JOHNNY PIGSKIN, and JOHNNY BENCHWARMER. Another football trademark story made big news as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) ruled in a case to cancel the Redskins trademark registrations.  Other big news stories, like the ebola outbreak, also were reflected the trademark filings. Another remarkable trademark story from 2014 was the Supreme Court, for the first time in several years, hearing a trademark case (B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.). The case involves the differences in proceedings before the USPTO’s trademark appeal board and the Federal courts, and the Court will likely rule on it in the spring of 2015. Here is a summary of the year’s major trademark related developments:

Washington, DC Professional Football Team Trademark. In June, the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted a request filed by several Native Americans to cancel those trademarks that feature the term “Redskins.” However, the decision is now on appeal and the ongoing dispute, which has lasted for over a decade, continues. Following the decision, many other applicants filed trademark applications for potential team names, such as WASHINGTON AMERICANS, WASHINGTON NATIVES, WASHINGTON FEDSKINS, WASHINGTON WARRIORS.

Popular Terms: Selfie, Drone, Weed, Vape, and more. Once again, the most popular words and phenomena in pop culture made their way into many trademark filings. The 2014 word of the year, according to Oxford English Dictionary, is “Vape.”  And business owners certainly agree as more than 300 applications were filed at the USPTO featuring the word VAPE. Other popular trademark terms in 2014 included SELFIE (140+ applications), DRONE (100+ applications), and WEED (150+ applications). More than 100 filings in 2014 contain the “#” hashtag symbol. Online and environmental branding trends from the last few years contained in 2014 as SOCIAL remained popular (400+ applications), along with CLOUD (700+ applications), while more than 1,000 applications were filed featuring GREEN.

Logo Trends. As even more business and advertising moves online and via mobile devices, logos are trending to simpler smaller designs, which make them faster to load and easier to see on mobile screens. Terrific logo redesigns from popular online businesses include those from FOURSQUARE , PayPal, and AirBnB.

 PayPal Logo

Ebola. The spread of ebola was certainly a big story in 2014. At the USPTO, there were several applications filed for ebola related treatments and products including ZMAPP (Pharmaceutical preparations for treatment of Ebola virus infections), EBOLAHOL (antiviral disinfectant products for Ebola), EBOLAWAY (Antibacterial and antiviral sprays and wipes for eliminating bacteria and virii), and EBOLA OUTBREAK MAP.

Controversial Trademark Filings. The ALS Association rode a wave of viral social media activity last summer to raise more than $100 million dollars. Most of the activity was the result of the “ice bucket challenge.” The Association made quite a stir later in the summer when it applied to register four trademarks featuring the phrase, including ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE and #ICEBUCKETCHALLENGE. However, following a rapid backlash questioning the charitable intent and legality of claiming sole ownership and control of the phrase, the Association withdrew the applications.  Other questionable trademark filings included names related to tragedies, such as the MH17 and MH370 airplanes.  Last year’s trends noted the numerous BOSTON STRONG trademark application filings; as of today all but one of them has been abandoned.

Trademark scams continue. Despite one law firm’s successful quest to shutdown an operation preying on trademark holders, such scams from numerous companies offering negligible or questionable services remain prolific. Join a petition to “Request USPTO Investigation and Action Regarding Trademark Scams” here.

What to look for in 2015. Expect even more trademark disputes to go viral via social media, building upon the success of EAT MORE KALE fending off a claim from Chik-fil-A and Eat Mor Chikin. Also expect the number of nontraditional trademark filings to continue to grow as more brands protect colors, sounds, shapes, and other indicators of source featuring more than words or logos.


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© 2014 Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

About Erik M. Pelton: Erik Pelton® has been making trademarks bloom since 1999® as the founder of Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC®, a boutique trademark law firm in Falls Church, Virginia. The firm has registered more than 2,000 U.S. trademarks for clients and has represented dozens of parties in trademark disputes. In 2014, Erik presented on trademark and branding issues to a variety of audiences, including the American Bar Association and a junior high school class.

Prior issues of Top Trademark TrendsSM

Fifteen years ago today, I filed my first trademark application

Posted by ipelton on: December 30th, 2014

Today marks 15 years since I started my firm and began representing small businesses in filing trademark applications with the USPTO, and providing trademark counsel.  From the start — fifteen years ago! – every single application I have filed (several thousand) has been for a flat, all-inclusive fee.

Fifteen years ago, the applications were submitted on paper. And I would hand-deliver them to the USPTO.  See the “Received” stamp below on the cover page from my first application filing from the USPTO records.

A lot has changed in those 15 years, but a lot has also stayed the same.

And today, trademarks are more valuable than ever and provide a great investment for their cost.


The first “College Football Playoff” kicks off on January 1st. The semifinal games feature No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl and No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The two winners will then meet on January 12, 2015 in at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (home of the Dallas Cowboys) to play for the National Championship. There are many trademarks involved in the events, from the teams to the stadiums to the playoffs themselves (at least according BCS Properties, LLC, the entity that owns and controls them.

Here are some of the more interesting trademarks involved in these games (click name or images to open USPTO records):

Rose Bowl

The “Rose Bowl” game and surrounding activities are the subject of many trademark registrations. And of course the teams are

Sugar Bowl

  • The logo revolves around the trophy that is awarded. As you can see below, the trophy is a registered trademark. But the logo is not registered. The SUGAR BOWL name is not registered for clothing or other merchandise.
  • SUGAR BOWL – registered for “Providing Football Games, Basketball Games, Tennis Games, Running Races and Regattas”
  • – registered for “Providing Football Games, Basketball Games, Tennis Games, Running Races and Regattas”
  • URBAN MEYER (pending application)
  • Trademark image(pending application)
  • Trademark image
  • Trademark image
  • Trademark image (pending application)
  • Trademark image (The mark consists of the trade dress comprising the color combination of crimson red and white, the crimson red as applied to the outer surface of the helmet and the white as a stripe running from front to back along the center of the helmet.)

 The playoffs

Recent Client Trademark Registrations LXXIII

Posted by ipelton on: December 23rd, 2014

The following is another update of recent Erik M. Pelton & Associates client registrations obtained from the public records so readers can see real  examples of brands and marks which are being protected – and the wide range of variety in brand names, logos, products and services. [Click trademark or logo to open USPTO records in a new window]

  • Trademark image – Hair care products, namely shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, non-medicated serum, dry shampoo, heat protectant spray, hairspray, hair styling paste; Electric hair straighteners; Electric flat irons; Electric hair curling irons; Electric hair dryers
  • IRON BODY STUDIOS – Physical fitness instruction; consulting in the field of fitness, exercise, athletics; Personal fitness training services; Physical fitness conditioning classes; Physical fitness instruction; Conducting fitness classes; Physical fitness studio services, namely, providing group exercise instruction, equipment, and facilities; Physical fitness training services; Providing a website featuring information on exercise and fitness; Providing fitness and exercise facilities
  • VICTORIANCHOICE – Online retail store services featuring clothing
  • TKOUT – Providing a website featuring a search engine for obtaining food and restaurant information
  • COUCH CLAMP – Rubber band for connecting furniture
  • ORB HEADPHONES – online retail store services featuring headphones and earphones
  • INSPIRE EMPOWER TRANSFORM CONNECT – Conducting fitness classes; Consulting services in the fields of fitness and exercise; Personal fitness training services and consultancy; Personal fitness training services featuring aerobic and anaerobic activities combined with resistance and flexibility training; Physical fitness conditioning classes; Physical fitness instruction; Physical fitness studio services, namely, providing exercise classes, body sculpting classes, and group fitness classes; Physical fitness studio services, namely, providing group exercise instruction, equipment, and facilities; Physical fitness training services; Providing a website featuring information on exercise and fitness; Providing a website featuring non-downloadable videos in the field of financial planning; Providing fitness and exercise facilities; Providing physical fitness and exercise service, namely, indoor cycling and yoga instruction; Yoga instruction
  • DATACHORES – Business consulting related to data management, acquisition, analysis and collection; data management services for use in reporting debt collection accounts to a collection agency; data analysis, namely, analysis of market research data and statistics
  • LLBO – Hooded sweat shirts; Pants; Sandals and beach shoes; Shirts; Sweat shirts; T-shirts; T-shirts for men, women, children, athletes
  • OFF MODE – Computer software for delaying and blocking the reception of mobile phone calls, text messages, and notifications, and sending automatic replies
  • PARA-RID – Herbal Supplements; medicinal liquid herbal extract

Where to find worry-free images to post on your blog or website

Posted by ipelton on: December 22nd, 2014

When posting images on your website or blog, you must be careful not to step on the copyright rights of others. Violating a copyright can be costly. Getty Images and others use software to persistently scour the internet looking for violations of their images, and contacting the sites who posted them.

Of course, “fair use” often allows for posting images owned by others. But there is never a definite answer to a fair use calculation – unless there is a lawsuit and court involved. When using an image under the belief that fair use permits it, it is always safest to note the source of the photo when posting it, and to link to the source as well.

The safest use of images or pictures on your blog or website is to only use those which have been cleared for use. The sites below offer free images where the usage provisions expressly allow other to generally post and use them. (Of course, you should read the terms of use on the sites for details.)

Wikimedia Commons


buffersocial article: 54+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts