Patterson Thuente IP is pleased to present the June/July 2018 issue of Ideas on Intellectual Property Law. We encourage you to read through it for ideas on how to best protect your intellectual property.
Shortly after filing a trademark application, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or with another non-US, government trademark agency, a growing number of our clients inevitably receive one or more official-looking letters or invoices seeking payment related to the trademark registration. You may have received one of these notices in the mail or via email yourself—a solicitation, formatted to look like an official government document, that lists data about your trademark application and even an image of your trademark (all of which is publicly available information). Many of these companies use terms that resemble an official agency name including one or more of the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” The truth is, these solicitations have absolutely no legal or other significance to your trademark registration.
What’s in a name? The answer to that question might determine whether a mark that includes someone’s surname is eligible for trademark registration. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has shed some light on when a mark with a surname is—and isn’t—registrable as a trademark.
Patterson Thuente IP is pleased to present the April/May 2018 issue of Ideas on Intellectual Property Law. We encourage you to read through it for ideas on how to best protect your intellectual property.
The fair use defense can prove to be the bane of a trademark holder’s infringement claim. The good news for trademark holders, though, is that the defense is difficult to establish before trial, giving them the opportunity to prove their cases to juries. That’s what happened in one recent case.
What’s offensive is often in the eye of the beholder. Where federal trademark registration is sought, this has long meant that registration could be denied if the mark was considered disparaging. Now, in a landmark 8-0 decision in Matal v. Tam, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the so-called “disparagement clause” in federal trademark law, opening the door to the registration of marks that may have been rejected as offensive in the past.
Manufacturers that let their distributors use their unregistered trademarks may later find themselves in a fight over the marks’ ownership. This article highlights how one federal court of appeals recently addressed such ownership disputes and adopted a different test for determining ownership of common law trademarks where there is no agreement addressing the issue.
Two firearms manufacturers came out shooting when a dispute arose over which one had the right to use the mark “SCAR” for guns and related items. The case, FN Herstal SA v. Clyde Armory Inc., raised the common trademark issue of priority of use, as well as the less-common unlawful use doctrine.
Rushmore Photo & Gifts, Inc. (RPG), the Niemann family, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. are celebrating a victory over Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. (SMRI) in a controversial, six-year trademark dispute over the name “Sturgis.” On March 10, the Court found that RPG and Wal-Mart had valid equitable defenses to SMRI’s trademark claims. The Court vacated and dismissed the entire jury damage award of $912,500, ruling that “SMRI is barred from recovering damages and profits from the defendants for the time period prior to October 30, 2015.”
The opportunity to label social media posts with hashtags are endless. But there is a tension between brandowners’ desire to get as many people as possible to see their posts and use their hashtag, and the traditional trademark laws. Trademark law surrounding social media is still full of gray areas, but this article can provide brandowners some guidance.