Archive | Trademarks

Trademark Ownership: The Risk of Owning a Trademark Personally

When a founder starts a business, he or she has many decisions to make. One of those is whether he or she should own assets of the business personally or whether he or she should form a corporation or LLC to own the assets of the business and bear the liabilities of a business. Founders are often quick to form a corporation or LLC to operate the business to shield themselves from personal liability arising from claims against the business.

But occasionally founders and business owners operating under a corporation or LLC seek to register and own trademarks personally rather than have them owned by the corporation or LLC. This is probably a mistake that increases their risk of being personally liable for products or services sold under the trademarks as …

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How Long Does It Take to Get a US Trademark Registration

After a trademark application is filed, it will be placed in a queue to be examined by a trademark examining attorney at the USPTO. The current USPTO records show that it takes an average of 2.7 months between the time of filing and the time of first action on the application. The USPTO targets between 2.5 and 3.5 months for a first action. In other words, it will take about 2 or 3 months for the office to substantively consider your application.

Further, USPTO records also show the total pendency average to be 9.5 months. Total pendancy is measured from filing to abandonment, allowance, or registration. Currently, the USPTO targets total pendency to be at 12 months or less.

If your application receives an office action with a rejection or …

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Amazing Woman: Is It Descriptive or Is It a Trademark?

Cathedral Art Metal Co, Inc. sued Nicole Brayden Gifts, LLC for trademark infringement arising from Brayden’s use of the term “Amazing Woman.” The Complaint alleges Brayden’s use of the term on a plate shown below is infringing.

AmazingWoman

Before getting to Brayden’s plate, let’s count the ways that Cathedral’s use of “Amazing Woman” on this plate (left) is not a trademark use.

First, “Amazing Woman” is not provided in a different font type, font size, color, or otherwise distinguished from the surrounding text. Second, it is used descriptively in the phrase “Recipe For An Amazing Woman.” Third, the poem that follows the heading purports to be exactly as the title directs, a “Recipe For An Amazing Woman.” Here’s what the poem on the plate says:

Start with faith and honesty

Mix in

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Love Made sues Victoria’s Secret: Love Made Me Do It

Love Made, LLC sued Victoria’s Secret (VS) alleging the that VS’ use of LOVE MADE ME DO IT on a tote bag and on a neon sign infringed Love Made’s trademark and copyright.

LoveMadeMeDoIt_VSTote1LoveMadeMeDoIt_neon

Love Made owns a trademark registration on LOVE MADE ME DO IT for apparel, which claims a first use of the mark in commerce in April 2013. Love Made operates a website at love-made.com.

LOVE MADE ME DO IT was not coined my Love Made, it appears. Its the name of a 1978 (or 1983) song by Danniebelle Hal and a 2010 album by Swedish singer Elon Lanto. However, there’s no requirement that one coin a phrase in order to generate trademark rights in it.

Sometimes when a phrase in is wide use it fails to function …

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Trademark Registration Invalid for Lack of Use in Commerce Before Statement of Use Deadline

TAOIn 2010, Marcus Bender visited a TAO restaurant or nightclub in an attempt to sell Kia Vodka. After that attempt failed, Bender Consulting Ltd. (Bender), which Mr. Bender owned, filed an intent-to-use trademark application on TAO VODKA for alcoholic beverages other than beer, which later registered.

TAO Licensing, LLC, petitioned to cancel the TAO VODKA registration. TAO owns several restaurants and nightclubs named TAO in cities, such as New York, and Las Vegas. TAO alleged that the registration was not valid because Bender did not use the mark in commerce prior to the deadline to file a statement of use, among other reasons.

Bender asserted that its registration was valid based on one sample case of Vodka shipped to Mr. Bender from a Vietnamese distillery. Mr. Bender allegedly provided samples, at no …

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Happy New Year: It’s not a Trademark for Wine, But it is for Dolls

HappyNewYearLNJ Vineyards LLC applied to register HAPPY NEW YEAR as a trademark for wine. The USPTO Examining Attorney refused registration asserting that HAPPY NEW YEAR did not function as a trademark when used in connection with wine.

The Examining Attorney said:

“HAPPY NEW YEAR, is a common sentiment usually conveyed when wishing someone happiness in the new year…Further, such phrases are commonly associated with wine and wishing someone a happy new year. … Accordingly, the mark functions only as the sentiment it conveys, rather than as a trademark/source identifier for the wine.”

If you heard/saw “HAPPY NEW YEAR” in connection with wine, would you think its a brand or would you think it was the common sentiment wishing you a happy new year? People drink wine on new years eve and commonly wish …

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How Important is the Description of Goods or Services in a Trademark Application?

LegalForce-v-LegalZoom

Raj Abhyanker is the owner of the lawfirm LegalForce RAPC Worldwide and of Tradmarkia.com. Raj and his lawfirm sued LegalZoom, the USPTO, and the State Bars of California, Arizona, and Texas based on what Raj alleged is LegalZoom’s unauthorized practice of law in connection with trademark application filing.

Alleged Unauthorized Practice of Law

Raj alleged that LegalZoom engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in connection with LegalZoom’s trademark application filing service. Raj and his law firm used LegalZoom to apply for two trademarks in connection with two of the Plaintiff’s businesses.

According to the complaint, LegalZoom represents on its website that it does not practice law. However, the complaint alleges that LegalZoom collects a service fee for its “peace of mind” review service. The complaint alleges that during the “class …

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Why You Should Own and Control Your Domain Name

“Do you want to build your online brand on the sand of someone else’s domain registration or on a bedrock of a domain registered in your name?”

FLNBIf you buy a piece of land, a house, or a building, would you allow the title to that property to name your real estate agent or your maintenance contractor? No, you would not. When you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or more on something you make sure that you actually own it in your name.

The same should be true when you buy a domain name for your website, regardless of the price. You should own and register it in your name, and not your technology provider’s name or anyone else’s name. When this is not the case, it can …

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Incontestable Status of Mark Found Generic Does Not Prevent Exceptional Case Attorney Fees

REACTIVEGeoDynamics sued DynaEnergetics for trademark  infringement of GeoDynamics’ REACTIVE trademark. GeoDynamics owned U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3,496,381 for the REACTIVE mark. After a bench trial the court found that REACTIVE was generic for the goods of fracturing charges for use in oil and gas wells and ordered the registration cancelled.

The defendant moved for fees and the court agreed that GeoDynamic’s trademark case was exceptional based on the weakness of its case. GeoDynamic asserted that the case was not exceptional because, among other reasons, the REACTIVE mark had achieved incontestability status at the USPTO. The court rejected that view. The incontestability status was not a bar to finding the case was exceptional.

Incontestability is somewhat misleading because “incontestability” is only achieved with respect to some grounds on which the registration …

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Multi-Color Design Trademarks and Trade Dress

SATA_Italco_PaintSATA GmbH sued Discount Auto Body and Paint Supply LLC for infringing its product design trademarks in the alleged sale of paint spray guns. SATA GmbH & Co. KG v. Discount Auto Body and Paint Supply LLC, No. 2-17-cv-03101 (D.N.V. 2017).

This case demonstrates that it is possible not only to obtain trademark protection in a product design comprising a single color applied to an area of the product, but also on any color applied to an area of a product. In other words, the use of any color on an area of a product can itself act as a trademark, indicating a source of goods and/or services.

One of the trademark SATA asserted was U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2,770,801 for a design mark of “a green band of color extended around the circumference …

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