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How to avoid being taken by a trademark scam

Posted by ipelton on: August 4th, 2015

Trademark scams are still prevalent. The USPTO has put up a warning page, but done little else recently to try to stop the scammers from taking advantage of trademark applicants and registrants. The FTC, to my knowledge, has done nothing.

If you think you might have received a trademark scam, here are some tips:

  • Do not pay it.
  • Search the internet for information about the material you received. Use particular language or addresses in quotations to make the search more direct.
  • Contact an attorney if you have any questions.
  • Contact the USPTO if you do not have an attorney. The USPTO “Trademark Assistance Center” can be reached at 800-786-9199 or via email at TrademarkAssistanceCenter@uspto.gov.
  • Read the fine print. I know, the fine print is often quite difficult to read (intentionally) but it usually makes it clear that this letter is not from the government and it describes what the costs or invoice are alleged to cover.
  • Be wary of requests to wire money to foreign banks.
  • Try contacting the company that sent the letter via email or phone or online. Do they respond?
  • Don’t pay for trademark directory listings. No one uses them!
  • Check the list of Non-USPTO Solicitations That May Resemble Official USPTO Communications provided by the USPTO.
  • Check the list of unofficial solicitations compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
  • Remember that if the correspondence did not come from the USPTO (Alexandria, VA and uspto.gov) then it is not official or from the government.
  • File a complaint with the FTC.

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A flamboyance of interesting flamingo trademarks

Posted by ipelton on: July 28th, 2015

Did you know that a group of flamingos is called a “flamboyance?”  Isn’t that just terrific!?

Recently, the man who was the “inventor” of the pink flamingo lawn ornament passed away. Don Featherstone, in 1957, created the plastic pink flamingo for Union Products, a maker of plastic lawn ornaments. More details about his life and invention can be found in his New York Times obituary.

There are interesting trademarks to be found for just about anything… including pink flamingos!

Click marks for USPTO records:

  • Trademark image– registered for Canned fruits and vegetables; Canned or bottled vegetables; Canned vegetables; Fruit jellies; Jams; Jams and marmalades; Jellies; Jellies and jams; Jellies for food; Jellies, jams; Marmalade; Marmalades; Marmalades and jams; Pickled cucumbers; Pickled fruits; Pickled vegetables; Pickles; Preserved fruit and vegetables; Preserved fruits and vegetables; Preserved vegetables; Sliced vegetables; Sliced vegetables preserved in soy sauce, soybean paste or vinegar; Spicy pickles; Vegetables in vinegar; Bread; Bread and buns; Bread and pastry; Bread rolls; Bread sticks; Cakes; Cookies; Cookies and crackers; Flat bread; Fruit breads; Fruit cakes
  • THE PINK FLAMINGOS – entertainment services in the nature of staging and providing performers for a full service variety show, including musical groups, theatrical groups and sound, lighting, stage props and technicians necessary to support the show
  • Trademark image– registered for Rubbish and refuse removal service
  • PINK FLAMINGO SOCIETY – registered for Short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts; T-shirts; Bermuda shorts; board shorts; boxer shorts; fleece shorts; panties, shorts and briefs; rugby shorts; short trousers; short-sleeved shirts; shorts; sliding shorts; sports shirts with short sleeves; sweat shorts; underwear, namely, boy shorts; walking shorts; Beer mugs; earthenware mugs; glass mugs; mug trees; mugs; porcelain mugs; biodegradable paper pulp-based plates, bowls and cups; cardboard cups; coffee cups; cups; dinnerware, namely, cups; drinking cups; drinking glasses; paper cups; plastic cups
  • Trademark image– registered for Real estate mortgage insurance underwriting services
  • PINK FLAMINGO – registered for ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES EXCLUDING BEERS, NAMELY, WINES; SPARKLING WINES; STILL WINES
  • Trademark image– pending application for Clothing, namely, pants, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, hats, jackets, sweaters, socks, shorts, shoes
  • Trademark image– pending application for Charitable fundraising services by means of selling clothing to raise funds for Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, Inc
  • PINK FLAMINGO FIREWORKS – pending application for Retail store services featuring fireworks
  • Trademark image – pending application for Bleaching preparations for laundry use; Cleaning, polishing and scouring preparations; Cosmetics; Dentifrices; Essential oils; Hair lotions; Laundry detergent; Perfumes; Soaps for hands and body; soaps for household use and personal use; All-purpose carrying bags; Animal skins and hides; Attache cases; Baby carrying bags; Bags for climbers in the nature of all-purpose carrying bags; Beach bags; Book bags; Briefcases; Duffel bags for travel; Gym bags; Handbags; Harnesses and saddlery; Hiking bags; Keycases; Leather and imitation leather; Leather bags, suitcases and wallets; Leather briefcases; Pocket wallets; Purses; Purses and wallets; Rucksacks; School bags; School satchels; Travel bags; Trunks; Trunks and suitcases; Umbrellas and parasols; Walking sticks; Whips; Bathrobes; Beachwear; Blouses; Business wear, namely, suits, jackets, trousers, blazers, blouses, shirts, skirts, dresses and footwear; Cardigans; Coats; Dresses; Footwear; Headgear, namely, hats and caps; Hosiery; Jackets; Leggins; Neckties; Pants; Pullovers; Shirts; Shorts; Skirts and dresses; Sleepwear; Socks; Suits; Sweat jackets; Sweat pants; Sweat shirts; Sweat shorts; Sweat suits; Swimsuits; Ties; Undergarments; Underwear; Vests; Advertisement and publicity services by television, radio, mail; Advertising services; Arranging and conducting special events for commercial, promotional or advertising purposes; Arranging of subscriptions for the publications of others; Arranging subscriptions of the online publications of others; Arranging subscriptions to telecommunication services; Business administration services; Business consultancy; Business consultation services; Business information and inquiries; Business management; Data processing services; Database management; Direct mail advertising services; Dissemination of advertisements; Newspaper subscriptions; Providing office functions; Public relations; Radio advertising; Rental of advertising space; Sales promotion services; Television advertising; Wholesale and retail store services featuring clothing, jewelry, footwear, headgear, alloys of precious metal, jewelry, horological and chronometric instruments, watches and watch straps, sunglasses, perfumes, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions, leather and imitations thereof, casual bags, handbags, traveling bags, trunks and traveling bags, umbrellas and walking sticks, purses, school satchels, pocket wallets, briefcases, keycases (leather), school satchels, school bags, attache cases, purses not of precious metal, briefcases (leather), beach bags, bags for climbers, bags for campers, baby carriers, rucksacks, gym bags, stationary; Bar services; Cafeteria services; Catering services; Food and drink catering; Hotel accommodation services; Hotel services; Making hotel reservations for others; Providing of food and drink; Providing temporary housing accommodations; Restaurant and café services; Restaurant and hotel services; Restaurant services

Another creative trademark use: welcome mats at offices

Posted by ipelton on: July 27th, 2015

I love finding (and blogging about) creative ways to use trademarks and promote brands. When visiting a client recently, I immediately noticed their welcome mat:

IF YOU CAN'T WE CAN IMG_7038

This is a creative and great way to essentially communicate to customers that  “you are here now” and “this is our brand” and “we value our brand and your visit!”

If you have a great brand and you stand behind it… flaunt it!

 

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Recent Client Trademark Registrations LXXX

Posted by ipelton on: July 24th, 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]

  • TEXTURADO – Providing awareness, namely, promoting public awareness in the field of safe driving
  • FIST PUMPKIN – Beer, Ale
  • YOUR BACKSTAGE PASS TO HOME OWNERSHIP – Real estate brokerage
  • WITTY IN THE CITY – On-line journal, namely, blog featuring stories, recipes, and photographs about food, cooking, pets, and life
  • PITA POUCH – Restaurant services
  • ROBBINBOOKS – online retail store services featuring textbooks
  • TRANSPORTATION DATA SOURCE – Providing a website featuring a search engine for transportation industry and motor carrier data
  • Mark Image – Physical fitness instruction; consulting in the field of fitness, exercise, athletics; Personal fitness training services; 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
  • Trademark image – Mobile restaurant services; food truck services, namely, providing of food and drink via a mobile truck
  • Trademark image – Providing awareness, namely, promoting public awareness in the field of safe driving
  • BIG STORY – business consulting in the fields of data, Big Data, data analytics, marketing, market research, native advertising, brand marketing, search and search technologies, virtual learning, coaching for business, brand storytelling, business communications, games for business communication, gamification, organizational effectiveness, leadership storytelling, organizational development, organizational effectiveness, branding, brand strategy, storytelling and story creation, creativity training, HR and talent management, communication training, enterprise architecture, leadership, intercultural communication, personal development tools and applications, communication technology, quantum storytelling, storytelling technology, behavioral science, organizational science, critical theory, education, customer acquisition, customer service
  • J/SLIDES – Footwear
  • Trademark image – Drug testing kits comprised of medical diagnostic reagents and assays for testing body fluids
  • FINEDINER – Mobile software application for logging, cataloging, searching, and reviewing restaurants in the field of food and restaurants
  • PEACE OF MIND MADE EASY – Services provided by locksmith, namely, changing, installation, replacement and repair of locks
  • SHENANDOAH STONE SUPPLY CO. – Warehousing services, namely, distribution of landscape and garden products and accessories, construction products and accessories, natural stone, concrete and masonry; delivery of landscape and garden products and accessories, construction products and accessories, natural stone, concrete and masonry
  • COLORED BOOBIES – providing information in the field of breastfeeding; providing a website resource featuring information in the field of breastfeeding
  • NOPROB – providing a website for business featuring technology allowing users to automate customer ordering, sales tools, payment, and inventory management
  • SHISHAJUANA – Hookah tobacco
  • Trademark image – providing a website for business featuring technology allowing users to automate customer ordering, sales tools, payment, and inventory management
  • ZOMBIE SLEEPING BEAUTY – Dolls
  • Trademark image – Dolls
  • FLOW-WAND – Play wands
In what could be a significant decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) this week overturned the Board’s decision that had sustained an opposition to PEACE LOVE AND JUICE (& design) for juice bar services based on a likelihood of confusion with Opposer’s PEACE & LOVE registered marks for use with restaurant services, and remanded the case to the Board for further determination. Juice Generation, Inc. v. GS Enterprises LLC, Case 14-1853 (CAFC, July 20, 2015).
The CAFC in particular noted that third-party registrations featuring the terms in the Opposer’s marks showed the weakness of the Opposer’s mark.
The CAFC also noted that costs (of the appeal) were awarded to appellant. I do not recall seeing such an award before.
Here are some key quotes from the CAFC opinion:
sufficient evidence of third-party use of similar marks can “show that customers …‘have been educated to distinguish between different … marks on the basis of minute distinctions.’”2 McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition §11:88 (4th ed.2015) (quoting Standard Brands, Inc. v. RJR Foods, Inc., 192 U.S.P.Q. 383 (T.T.A.B. 1976)).
The weaker an opposer’s mark, the closer an applicant’s mark can come with-out causing a likelihood of confusion and thereby invading what amounts to its comparatively narrower range of protection. Id. (“Evidence of third-party use of similar marks on similar goods is relevant to show that a mark is relatively weak and entitled to only a narrow scope of protection.”); In re Coors Brewing Co., 343 F.3d 1340, 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2003)(third-party use can establish that mark is not strong); Fleetwood Co. v. Mende, 298 F.2d 797, 799 (CCPA 1962) (“Where a party uses a weak mark, his competitors may come closer to his mark than would be the case with a strong mark without violating his rights.”).
In remanding to the TTAB, the CAFC also noted that the Board did not give proper consideration to whether Applicant’s “mark may convey a distinct meaning –  including by having different connotations in consumers’ minds – from the two-word phrase used by [Opposer].
Will this decision increase the role of third-party registrations in TTAB proceedings?
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