Posts Tagged ‘celebrity brands’

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™:

Donald Trump continues to make much news in the 2016 presidential election. Regardless of your politics, he is unquestionably a brand to be reckoned with. His brand is worth a lot of money; over the years the TRUMP name has appeared not just on hotels, casinos, golf courses and other ventures from Trump himself, but on products and services with he has licensed or endorsed. In addition, his campaign has a slogan.

All in all, Donald Trump may have more trademarks than all the previous presidential candidates combined – he has more than 100 registrations and pending applications. Here is a rundown of some of the most interesting Trump related marks (click each mark for USPTO records):

  • TRUMP GOLF LINKS – clothing, golf course and club house services, and more
  • EMPIRE BY TRUMP – Cologne; fragrances; after-shave lotions; deodorant for personal use; bath gel
  • TRUMP – pending application for Political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues; Fundraising in the field of politics
  • TRUMP – limousine services
  • SELECT BY TRUMP – coffee
  • MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN –  Political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues; Fundraising in the field of politics
  • UNITED STATES POKER CHAMPIONSHIP – Entertainment services featuring games of chance, namely, card tournaments
  • TRUMP – gambling services
  • SUCCESS BY TRUMP – Cologne; fragrances; after-shave lotions; deodorant for personal use; soaps for hand, face and body; bath gel
  • TRUMP HOME – Toothbrush holders; soap dishes; drinking glasses, namely, tumblers; lotion dispensers; soap dispensers; cotton ball jars; trays not of precious metal; ceramic tissue box covers; Bed blankets; duvets; duvet covers; bed skirts; quilts; pillow shams; comforters; shower curtains; towels; wash cloths
  • DJT – Restaurant services; bar services; food and drink service
  • Mark Image-Real estate development and construction of commercial and residential properties
  • TRUMP PLAZA – casino services
  • TRUMPTINI – Prepared alcoholic cocktail
  • TRUMP TYCOON – computer game programs
  • TRUMP – Breakfast cereals; cereal derived food bars; corn chips; cocoa; coffee; granola snack bars; cereal-based snack foods; grain-based snack foods; processed cereal-based food to be used as a breakfast food, snack food or ingredient for making other foods; tea; herbal tea; tea-based beverages with fruit flavoring
  • TRUMP CARD –  Magnetic-coded cards used in connection with marketing, and customer incentives
  • FIFTH AVENUE – casino services
  • Mark Image– jewelry

And many others have been inspired by Trump. Stay tuned later this week for some trademarks that are not owned by Donald, but are (perhaps) and nod to him.

Related posts: Presidential campaign trademarks (2012)

Today the new James Bond movie, Spectre, is being released. I love James Bond movies!  The franchise has done a great job creating and protecting the brand and many great names. And the James bond gun barrel swirl featured in most of the movies and in the branding. There are numerous trademarks owned by the company that makes the films. And a variety of trademarks owned by third parties that pay tribute to 007 themes.


Here are some great James Bond trademarks. Click marks for USPTO information.

Here are a few trademarks owned by others that play off of James Bond film/villain names. Click marks for USPTO information.

As noted here frequently, pop culture can often drive trademark filings. Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, has certainly been in the news a lot recently, including a much-discussed Vanity Fair cover. And in recent weeks, multiple “Caitlyn” trademark application filings have been made at the USPTO. It is unclear which, if any, of these applicants have written agreements with Caitlyn Jenner.

Click marks below for USPTO records:

  • I AM CAITLYN filed by E! Entertainment Television, LLC for “Entertainment services in the nature of television and multimedia program series featuring subjects of general human interest distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; providing entertainment information to others via a global computer network”
  • CAITLYN JENNER filed by Leon Youngblood for Entertainment in the nature of an ongoing special variety, news, music or comedy show featuring * broadcast over television, satellite, audio, and video media; Entertainment services, namely, providing ongoing television programs in the field of * via a global computer network; Tops for PANT, SUITS, DRESSES, BATHING SUITS, HATS
  • CALLL ME CAITLYN filed by A.R. IMPORTS, LLC for “fragrances and cosmetics”
  • HER BY CAITLYN filed by A.R. IMPORTS, LLC for “fragrances and cosmetics”
  • CAITLYN filed by A.R. IMPORTS, LLC for “fragrances and cosmetics”
  • FREE BY CAITLYN filed by A.R. IMPORTS, LLC for “fragrances and cosmetics”
  • CAITLYN filed by Home Essentials & Beyond, Inc. for “Serve-ware, drink-ware, and beverage dispensers, made of ceramic and/or glass”
  • CAITLYN filed by Lifeguard Licensing Corp. for “Cosmetics, toilet preparations and perfumery products, namely, lipsticks, lip gloss, lip liners, lip balms, lip palettes; eye shadows, eye lining pencils, liquid eye liners, eye makeup, mascara, eyebrow pencils, artificial eyelashes, eye palettes; blushers, multi-use cosmetic sticks, foundation makeup, pressed powder, loose powder, makeup remover, concealers, multi-use colored creams, powders and gels for use on face, cleansers, namely, facial cleansers and skin cleansers; exfoliators, namely, skin and facial exfoliators; moisturizers for the face and body, masks for the face and body, toners, eye creams, skin cleansing wipes; non-medicated skin care creams, lotions, oils, sprays, and gels for the face and body; anti-cellulite and body firming creams, lotions, serums and sprays for the face and body; nail polish, nail enamel, nail polish remover; fragrances for personal use; suncare lotions, bronzers, tanning lotions, sunscreens, self tanners, after sun soothers and rehydrators, namely, sun creams, lotions and gels”
  • CAITLYN filed by Lifeguard Licensing Corp. for “Clothing, namely, shirts, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, under shirts, polo shirts, night shirts, rugby shirts, jerseys, scrubs not for medical purposes, smocks, dress shirts, culottes, stretch pants, overalls, coveralls, denim jeans, jumpers, jump suits, stretch tops, tube tops, crop tops, tankinis, halter tops, hooded sweat shirts, wraps, warm-up suits, jogging suits, track suits, snow suits, parkas, capes, ponchos, cardigans, pants, jean jackets, cargo pants, shorts, boxer shorts, tops, tank tops, sweat shirts, sweat jackets, sweat shorts, sweat pants, blouses, dresses, sweaters, vests, fleece vests, pullovers, jackets, coats, blazers, suits, turtlenecks, reversible jackets, wind-resistant jackets, shell jackets, sports jackets, golf and ski jackets, heavy coats, over coats, top coats, cloth ski bibs, swimwear, beachwear, tennis wear, surf wear, ski wear, infantwear, swim caps, visors, headbands, ear muffs, neckerchiefs, thermal underwear, long underwear, briefs, bras, panties, thongs, G-strings, singlets, underclothes, night gowns, nighties, lingerie, slips, sarongs, leg warmers, leggings, tights, leotards, caps, hats, headwear, scarves, bandanas, belts, neckwear, ties, underwear, socks, loungewear, robes, pajamas, sleepwear, hosiery, gloves, rain slickers, boots, galoshes, rainwear, footwear, shoes and sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, and slippers”

I imagine the USPTO will deny these applications as identifying a living individual, unless consent in writing is obtained from Caitlyn Jenner. But if any of the applicants have Caitlyn’s written permission, they may be able to register the mark provided that all the other requirements for registration are met.

Did you know that the “Triple Crown” is awarded in many sports, not only thoroughbred racing?

Of course, during the last week much attention has been given to American Pharoah becoming the first horse to win the triple crown in 37 years.  For more on the American Pharoah trademarks, see my recent post here.

Here are some other triple crown trademarks (click for USPTO records):

  • TRIPLE CROWN – conducting cheerleading and dance competitions and events
  • TRIPLE CROWN – Entertainment services, namely, organizing and conducting softball tournaments
  • TRIPLE CROWN OF BUSINESS – Educational Services, namely conducting classes, seminars, conferences and workshops in the field of marketing, managing and business negotiating, including the distribution of books, publications and sound recordings in connection therewith
  • TRIPLE CROWN – Promoting, arranging and conducting sports car and automobile races and race activities, namely, a series of sports car and automobile race events to determine an overall winner of the series of sports car and automobile race events
  • TRIPLE CROWN – organizing and promoting state and national street hockey festivals, state and national three-on-three basketball tournaments, state and national volleyball tournaments, state and national baseball tournaments, college women’s pre-season national invitational basketball tournaments, state and national soccer tournaments, and state and national fast pitch softball tournaments
  • TRIPLE CROWN OF SKATEBOARDING – Entertainment services, namely organizing and conducting international skateboarding competitions
  • TRIPLE CROWN OF SURFING – entertainment services, namely organizing and conducting international competitions in the field of ocean sports
File:American Pharoah.jpg

Governor Hogan attends 2015 Preakness Stakes by Tom Nappi at Pimlico, Baltimore, Maryland 2015 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. A thunderstorm resulted in sloppy track conditions. Author: Maryland GovPics