Last week saw many developments and stories related to trademarks. Since I started this blog more than two years and several hundred posts ago, I honestly cannot recall a week with so many trademark stories!
Here is a brief rundown of the key trademark stories of last week:
Justin Bieber makes trademark news – on Friday, the celebrity gossip website website TMZ reported that Bieber’s attorneys sent a cease and desist demand to the maker of an app game called JOUSTIN’ BEAVER. The app makes filed for a trademark registration in the USPTO a few weeks ago. TMZ posted a copy of the demand letter. As a result of the coverage, the app received a lot of attention – and downloads – and broke into the iTunes top 100. As of the weekend, the app was still available in iTunes and the Android marketplace.
Wall Street Journal featured article on Start-Ups ‘Shame’ Bigger Companies: ‘Coming Down Hard on the Little Guy’ - the article references several trademark disputes include the one involving EAT MORE KALE and Chik-fil-A’s EAT MOR CHIKIN slogan, and noted the increasing role that social media campaigns can play for accused infringers.
Trademark scams - the USPTO updated the trademark page of the USPTO.gov website on Friday to include a warning about solicitations sent to trademark applicants and registrants that are misleading and of questionable value: WARNING: NON-USPTO SOLICITATIONS THAT MAY RESEMBLE OFFICIAL USPTO COMMUNICATIONS: Be aware that private companies not associated with the USPTO often use trademark application and registration information from the USPTO’s databases to mail or e-mail trademark-related solicitations.
The New York Times featured an article on trademarks as well: Trademarks Take On New Importance in Internet Era – The article does not focus as much on the Internet as the headline implies. But the article is remarkable for noting that, in the dispute over the PRETZEL CRISPS trademark, “Princeton Vanguard already has spent $1 million on legal fees” defending against Frito-Lay.
USPTO held roundtable on “Future Plans for USPTO ID-Class Practice” - on Friday the USPTO convened a public meeting exploring some issues on the possible changes to the ID manual and other ID issues. I attended the meeting in person (it was also webcast) and some interesting ideas and feedback were discussed. My guess is that in the next year the USPTO will likely move to trim the size of the ID manual and to explore introducing a hierarchical index of the manual as an option for applicants and attorneys to use in finding the correct identification and the necessary level of specification.
Bo Muller-Moore, the owner of EAT MORE KALE, and a filmaker launched a Kickstarter project called “A Defiant Dude” – the project seeks to make a documentary film. “By helping make this documentary I want to shine a light on this issue, my battle, and other trademark bullies, too.” In less than a week, more than 200 people have signed up to contribute to fund the film.
News broke that Apple is being sued not only in China but also in California regarding the IPAD trademark- Apple claims that it bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark. Proview argues that the rights Apple claims are not all valid and that Apple concealed its identity in using a shell company to contract with Proview. See Apple faces new iPad trademark challenge in California (The Telegraph).
COACH defeated at appellate court – The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled on an appeal that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board properly held that Triumph Learning’s COACH mark for educational software was not confusingly similar to or diluting the COACH handbag and accessories trademark.
And, of course, the LINsanity continued – Jeremy Lin made the cover of Sports Illustrated for the 2nd week in a row, and the number of Lin inspired (LINspired?) USPTO trademark applications continued to grow. They now include: J Lin, LINDERFUL, LINSANE, lin-sational, LINITLESS, All LIN, LINSPIRATION, I’M A LINNER, LINNING IS THE ONLY THING, MARKET LINQUIDITY (filed by Nasdaq!), Air Lin