E-commerce has allowed foreign corporations to reach new customers far beyond their borders. Sales to U.S. customers, though, might open up a foreign company to litigation in the United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has shed light on how a foreign defendant can land in federal court for alleged trademark infringement.
Alleged infringement of technical standards raises questions Thousands of private organizations produce technical standards, some of which are incorporated into laws by federal, state and local governments. A federal court of appeals recently considered whether these organizations can invoke copyright and trademark laws to prevent the unauthorized copying and distribution of such works. The court, however, failed to provide a conclusive answer, focusing instead on fair use matters.
Registration of a trademark hinges, in part, on whether there is a likelihood of confusion with an earlier application or registration. In a recent case, a sports specialty shop learned that the trademark it sought for registration was considered likely to be confused with that of a private social club.
When most people hear the word “generic,” it brings to mind a consumer product without a brand name. But its meaning is much more significant in the trademark world, where a term deemed generic isn’t eligible for trademark protection. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently clarified the test for so-called genericness.
The US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit published its opinion today, finding that a federally registered trademark for the mark Sturgis, owned by Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. (SMRI), is invalid. This is a major victory for Rushmore Photo & Gifts, the Niemann family of Rapid City, SD, and Wal-mart Stores, Inc., the defendants in this seven-year dispute over the Sturgis mark, The Court found that SMRI’s unregistered, common law trademarks “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally” and “Sturgis Rally & Races” are also invalid.
Court splits over trade dress, trademark claims In 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a trademark holder seeking a preliminary injunction after filing suit against an alleged infringer must establish the likelihood of irreparable harm, rather than relying on a presumption of harm. Not until this year, though, has the court elaborated on the kind of proof required. Its recent ruling sheds light on what does — and doesn’t — demonstrate irreparable harm.
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How is your company handling foreign trademark searches? Is the Madrid Protocol still useful? Is your company building house brands or a branded house? These are some of the latest issues in trademark law discussed by in-house IP counsel at our IP Forum last week (co-hosted with our friends at Dennemeyer). Here are a few tips they had for companies doing business globally.
Have you received an official-looking letter or invoice from the Patent & Trademark Agency located in New York City? How about one from the Trademark Compliance Office in Arlington, VA? These are two of the several companies that offer what they call “trademark-related services.” 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.” Many of these solicitations will even contain accurate information about your trademark registration and cite correct information, such as the requirement that a registration must be renewed every 10 years. One common theme with all of these solicitations is they are seeking fees for services that have no legal significance to your trademark registration.
Just last year, in Matal v. Tam, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door to the registration of trademarks that could be considered offensive when it ruled that the disparagement clause in the federal trademark law was unconstitutional. Now the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has taken a similar stance, striking down the bar against the registration of trademarks that are “immoral or scandalous.”
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