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Top Trademark Trends of 2015: Supremes, Slants, Swiftmas, and more

Posted by ipelton on: December 30th, 2015

Top Trademark Trends™ of 2015

By Erik M. Pelton (Erik M. Pelton & Associates®)

In 2015, the field of trademarks featured many developments. Two major court cases featured significant developments but left much unsettled. Nearly every major story in the news was followed by related trademark issues. In all, 2015 was an exciting year for trademarks.

US trademark filings increase again. For the sixth year in a row, the number of trademark application filings submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has increased. However, this year’s increase of nearly ten percent was even larger than those of the last several years. As a result of the increased filings in recent years, the overall number of active US trademark registrations sits at an all-time high, nearly 2.1 million.

Supreme Court weighs in on trademark law. In March, the Supreme Court issued its first significant trademark ruling in years. B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1293 (2015). The Court held that proceedings at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) of the USPTO have a preclusive effect in later District Court actions when the proper conditions are met; it may take a few years before we know the full ramifications. In the short term, it means that the decision for some trademark plaintiffs whether to file a claim at the TTAB or in District Court may be more complicated, and the stakes may be raised in all trademark disputes as the consequences are more significant.

Refusal to register “disparaging” trademarks held unconstitutional. In December, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) held that the USPTO was wrong to refuse to register the name of a band, The Slants, on grounds that the name is disparaging. The CAFC held that the portion (in Section 2(a)) of the Lanham Act statute barring registration of disparaging terms violates the first amendment protections for private speech. The case could be appealed to the Supreme Court in 2016, and will likely affect the years-long saga involving the Washington Redskins trademarks.

Google and other logos get sleeker. Google unveiled a major logo redesign, but the design change was minimal. The significance of the change is that it created a more streamlined and sleek design package. In 2015, Verizon, Facebook, Spotify, OpenTable, and others also made subtle tweaks to their logos, all of made for simpler designs that are easier to read on small screens. As more brand interactions are online and mobile, look for other brands to simplify their logos next year as well.

Pop culture reflected in trademark applications. Major events in the news throughout the year were reflected in trademark application filings. For example, there were filings for Je Suis Charlie, Cecil the lion, Caitlyn Jenner, Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again, and Deflatriots. Taylor Swift also made news by filing scores of new trademark applications in 2015, including SWIFTMAS.

On tap for 2016. I predict that next year in trademarks will include further developments in the Redskins and Slants cases regarding allegedly disparaging trademarks, an increase in some USPTO trademark filing fees, and a meeting of the five largest trademark offices (the ‘TM5’) in China next fall. Despite a contentious presidential election, companies will continue to innovate and to invest in new trademarks.

© 2015 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®, 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 2015, Erik presented on trademark and branding issues to a variety of audiences, including the American Bar Association and a high school class.

Past editions of Top Trademark Trends™:

Recent Client Trademark Registrations LXXXV

Posted by ipelton on: December 30th, 2015

The following is another update of recent Erik M. Pelton & Associates client trademark registrations obtained from the public records of the USPTO 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]

  • WHERE NUTRITION MEETS TRAINING – online retail store services featuring equine supplements
  • DR. BRADLEY NELSON – Educational services, namely, providing seminars and personal and group coaching services in the fields of wellness, health, physical, mental and emotional healing, and personal lifestyle coaching; Educational services, namely, providing training of health providers and lay-people for certification in the field of bioenergetic healing, overall wellness, physical, mental, and emotional healing
  • GAPLETS – Computer software for use in data management in the field of human resources; software for managing of human resources data; software platform featuring tools to manage, maintain, discover and report in the field of data and information across different systems and applications
  • SMART PHILANTHROPY – Consulting in the field of philanthropy and non-profits, namely, helping foundations and non-profits to create, launch, manage, evaluate, and communicate grant programs and initiatives
  • CIMA – bicycles, bicycle wheels, bicycle frames
  • Trademark image – bicycles, bicycle wheels, bicycle frames
  • ENABLE LIFE SCIENCES – Consulting services for others in the field of design, planning, and implementation project management of scientific research, and clinical trials; research and development of technology in the fields of medicine, medical innovation, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; product development in the fields of medicine, medical innovation, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
  • SHAVE YOURSELF A FORTUNE – razor blade sharpener; razor case featuring sharpener
  • ANF-RHO – pharmaceuticals used for stimulating white blood cell production
  • EL PASO MEXICAN RESTAURANT – restaurant services
  • NEESHA – dresses, skirts, tops, jackets, leggings, scarves, headbands
  • MARIMBA – Computer software and mobile software for messaging; Computer software and mobile software for communications via the internet, namely, software for transmitting and sharing data and information in the nature of text, video and audio for purposes of social networking
  • Trademark image – Professional business consultation and business management consulting
  • CONVERSATIONAL FINANCE – Educational services, namely, conducting seminars in the field of business and finance, business simulation exercises for educational purposes, Workshops featuring business game simulations, business education, namely, developing and facilitating custom business simulation exercises for companies
  • ANNIE TEEKR – mobile software app for searching and organizing information and data in the fields of flea markets, antiques, collectors, and shopping

Last week saw the second trademark case of 2015 to make significant news. In March, the Supreme Court decided B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1293 (2015) holding that proceedings at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) of the USPTO have a preclusive effect in later District Court actions when the proper conditions are met. Now the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) has held that the bar on registering disparaging marks in Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act is unconstitutional, violating the first amendment protections for private speech. The full opinion in In re Simon Shiao Tam is here.

Here is a roundup of stories and blog posts from others around the web with links:

Fun reindeer trademarks

Posted by ipelton on: December 23rd, 2015

It is the holiday season, and reindeer are everywhere – on the neighbor’s lawn in lights, on the airwaves with Rudolph.

Believe it or not, there are a LOT of trademarks that have to do with reindeer – either the word REINDEER in the mark, a design of a reindeer, or (much more rare) reindeer related goods/services. Here are some of the more interesting USPTO trademark records related to reindeer:

 

Over the last few months, as he has risen in the presidential primary polls, Donald Trump has inspired many third parties to file trademark applications referencing his name and campaign. Some of them are rather creative. Will they be allowed? Or do they create a false suggestion, or a likelihood of confusion, with the many registered Trump trademarks?  For example, see the applications (and a few registrations the reference older Trump projects) below – click marks for USPTO records:

  • MR TRUMP YOU ARE HIRED! – pending application for Hats; T-shirts
  • Mark Image – pending application for ‘At this time, the mark is on a bumper sticker. But possible placement on hats and T-shirts’
  • Trump: the best card in the deck. – pending application for Advertising signs of cardboard; Advertising signs of paper; Magnetic bumper stickers; Magnetic decals; Magnetic paper; Printed paper signs
  • TRUMP THAT! – pending application for clothing, T-shirts; Hats, footwear, headgear
  • IN TRUMP WE TRUST – pending application for Hats; Pants; Socks; T-shirts; Ties
  • humptydumptytrump – pending application for Athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms
  • What About Trump – pending application for Preparation of customized promotional and merchandising materials for others
  • Teflon Trump – pending application for Providing political information about elections
  • Hijo De Trump – Entertainment services, namely, wrestling exhibits and performances by a professional wrestler and entertainer
  • Americas trump card – pending application for Licensing of advertising slogans and cartoon characters
  • YOU WANT TRUMP ON THAT WALL! YOU NEED TRUMP ON THAT WALL! – pending application for Hats, shirts, jackets, pants. Key rings, nick-nacks, signs, posters, stickers. Floor mats, rugs
  • Lady and the Trump – pending application for shirts
  • Trump Start America – pending application for ‘Tee shirts and paraphernalia. Website’
  • Elect Trump Fire Washington – pending application for Political consultancy; Providing political information about elections; Providing political information, news, and commentary in the field of election campaigns
  • Trump This 2016 – pending application for Hats, T-Shirts
  • I STUMP FOR TRUMP – pending application for Clothing, namely, hats, t-shirts, socks
  • You can’t spell Triumph without Trump – pending application for Golf shirts; Hats; Pullovers; T-shirts
  • Pump for Trump – pending application for Promoting, advertising and marketing of the brands, products, services and online websites of individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations; Promoting, marketing and advertising the brands and goods of others related to all industries, through all public and private communication means, namely, promoting the brands and goods of others made in the United States; Social media strategy and marketing consultancy focusing on helping clients create and extend their product and brand strategies by building virally engaging marketing solutions
  • THE DONALD – pending application for Beer funnel and tubing sold together as a unit for drinking beer; Beer glasses; Beer jugs; Beer mugs; Beverageware; Ceramic figurines; Coffee cups, tea cups and mugs; Combs; Cookie jars; Cookie molds; Dishes; Dishware; Drinking bottles for sports; Drinking cups for babies and children; Drinking flasks; Drinking glasses; Electric hair combs; Electric tooth brushes; Foam drink holders; Hair combs; Hair picks; Hair, nail and tooth brushes; Hairbrushes; Ice cube molds; Lunchboxes; Paper plates and paper cups; Piggy banks; Plastic plates; Plastic water bottles sold empty
    • NOTE: The Donald, LLC filed for more than 10 recent trademark applications featuring “The Donald”
  • Mark Image– pending application sports caps and hats
  • YOU’RE FIRED –  Providing studio facilities for paint your own pottery and create your own mosaics; Providing do-it-yourself ceramic studio facilities with precast ceramic pottery that is painted on-site by customers and then glazed and/or kiln-fired; and Providing do-it-yourself studio facilities with mosaic tiles that are pieced together to create mosaics on-site by customer
  • YOU’RE HIRED – board game
  • THE PRESIDENTIAL APPRENTICE – pending application for Coffee mugs; Drinking glasses, namely, tumblers; Baseball caps; Sweat shirts; T-shirts