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Erik M Pelton & Associates celebrates 15 years of trademarks

Posted by ipelton on: December 19th, 2014

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of hosting the local Falls Church Chamber of Commerce happy hour gathering. I hosted the event as part of the celebration of 15 years of trademark practice! That’s right, in December of 1999 I launched my law practice and filed my first trademark applications.

I remember those first weeks vividly, waiting for small businesses to find my “homemade” website. From the start, I aimed to offer reasonable flat fees and exceptional service. While a lot has changed over those 15 years (for example, those first applications were hand delivered to the USPTO, now documents are filed around the world with a click), our core principles at Erik M. Pelton & Associates remain the same. Thanks to the trust we have earned from our clients, we have become leaders in the trademark field and successfully registered more than two thousand trademarks for clients from around the world in all types of industries.

It continues to be a joy and privilege to work with so many successful entrepreneurs and business owners.

Erik Pelton – Making trademarks bloom since 1999®

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The 2014 word of the year, according to Oxford English Dictionary, is “Vape.”  According to the Oxford Dictionaries blog:

So, what does vape mean? It originated as an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize. TheOxfordDictionaries.com definition was added in August 2014: the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device’, while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape. The associated noun vaping is also listed.

As with just about any cultural trend, the trademark register reflects the culture. So in 2014 there have been more than 275 applications filed with the USPTOfor trademarks that feature “vape” or “vaping”. For all years prior to 2014, the cumulative number of USPTO filings with those words was 212.

The first US “vape” trademark application appears to have come in 2010 for VIVA LA VAPE.

Here are some of the most interesting VAPE-themed filings at the USPTO [click marks for USPTO records]:

Despite the best efforts of many, scammers continue to take advantage of trademark owners. When applicants file to register trademarks with the USPTO their application data becomes part of a public record. A variety of scammer then take that public information and prey upon them with questionable and overpriced services.

The USPTO warns applicants on their website and when they mail copies of USPTO trademark registrations.

The law firm of Leason Ellis has twice sued scam operators to put them out of business.

And I have written for years about this issue. Yet the problem persists.

Join me to call upon the USPTO to do more. This petition has 74 signatures. Perhaps if it receives hundred of signatures the USPTO or TPAC will take notice. Click on the link below to visit the ipetitions site and sign the petition. The full text of the petition is below.

Request USPTO Investigation and Action Regarding Trademark Scams

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petitions

 

Dear Commissioner Cohn and Chairman Tepper, We write to request that the USPTO, with assistance from the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (“TPAC”), renew and strengthen efforts to combat the ongoing epidemic of trademark related scams targeting trademark applicants and registrants. As you are no doubt aware, several entities with names like United States Trademark Registration Office; World Intellectual Property Database; GBO INC., Trademark and Patent Dep.; and USA TradeMark Ent., INC. use the contact information available in the USPTO’s database to mail and email solicitations to trademark applicants, including those represented by counsel. The solicitations often include offers for listing marks in registries that are of no value to the trademark owner, if they exist at all. The solicitors use a combination of names, language, and letterhead that clearly attempt to mimic official government correspondence. These solicitations lack any true value, confuse those who receive them, collect money in return for a service of little or no benefit, and damage the integrity of the trademark registration system. Others have had some success taking steps to limit these practices. For example, in 2009 the Attorney General of Florida successfully brought a case against Federal Institute for Patent and Trademark Registry for violation of the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. More recently, the law firm of Leason Ellis has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against U.S. Trademark Enterprises alleging federal false advertising and state unfair competition torts (see http://bit.ly/ymjXya). However, we believe that more must be done to protect users of the trademark system from these deceptive practices. Therefore, we urge the USPTO to: a) coordinate with the Commissioner for Trademarks, the Federal Trade Commission, state agencies, law enforcement, and others with jurisdiction over the subject matter to investigate issues of false advertising, impersonating a government agency, and/or charging money for services of no value; b) create additional warnings and educational content for trademark applicants and registrants regarding these issues; and c) take any other actions possible to limit the damage caused by these scams. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. Sincerely, Erik M. Pelton (author)

Sports announcer trademarks

Posted by ipelton on: December 11th, 2014

Recently, longtime college basketball announcer Bill Rafferty made some headlines with his applications to register some of his well known phrases. Rafferty filed to register ONIONS and WITH A KISS. The challenge with such trademarks is determining if and how they are used in commerce. Using them in the course of a broadcast while describing the play may not be a true trademark use. A trademark is fundamentally anything that identifies the source of the goods or services. Of course, it is always possible to make apparel featuring the phrase and to aply for registration of the phrase in connection with  clothing — but that is not a real true trademark use either; it is probably ornamental and weaker.

But announcer trademarks are not new, and several of them have been registered in the past. LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE is the best known, and has no doubt generated a lot of revenue for its owner, Michael Buffer. Here are a few other registered announcer trademarks, many of which are also from boxing announcers:

 

 

 

Minor league baseballs teams are a hotbed for creative branding and logos (El Paso Chihuahuas, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Richmond Flying Squirrels, etc.). The San Antonio Missions are no exception. This doulbe-A affiliate of the Padres unveiled new uniforms and logos last month.

According to a story on milb.com, the new “M” logo features a mission bell ringing; and the primary logo features a baseball shooting across the bottom, which represents cannon fire from the Alamo.

The artwork for the logos is nice — mostly with a modern update of a classic feel. Nothing too outrageous or bold or different. And the “SA” logos feature a coonskin cap, ala Davey Crocket, and a hot pepper! And apparently the team sports a mascot named “Henry the Puffy Taco!” And his sidekick is “Ballapeño” the baseball-playing jalapeno!

All in all, a fun creative brand with suggestive logos and brand name. Well done, Missions!

One significant critique of the new branding, however: no USPTO trademark filings to help protect the new logos or the mascots. Although the MISSIONS name is registered.

Image via milb.com