The fast food company McDonald’s was recently accused of of being a trademark bully in a complaint filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office by the founder and CEO of the Supermac fast food chain. The company claims that McDonald’s is bullying its competition by trademarking every word containing either “Mc” or “Mac”. While this case involves a decision by a European court, trademark bullying is also a significant problem in the United States. Each year, there are a number of cases in the news involving “trademark bullying”. While some individuals view this type of behavior as merely adequate enforcement of an individual’s trademark rights, other individuals feel that this type of behavior goes beyond the reasonable bounds of trademark protection.
Due to a growing need for medical care, the healthcare industry is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of business in the United States. As old companies try to maintain a secure healthcare trademark in the industry, newer healthcare companies are able to create a point of identification for consumers. If you are interested in protected a trademark in the healthcare industry, there are some recommended steps that you should follow.
Unique Problems for a Healthcare Trademark
One of the most significant problems in selecting a trademark in the healthcare industry is the level of distinctiveness in trademarks. One of the lowest categories of marks are descriptive trademarks, which are sometimes but not always granted in trademark filings. These marks provide information to the consumer about service or products but lack the more fanciful, arbitrary, and suggestive nature of trademark filings that are often granted as marks. Hospitals and other types of companies in the healthcare industry are often named with geographic designations, the names of famous individuals, or in the case of practices even family names. These types of titles are often grouped in the descriptive category. As a result, there is often a risk that these types of marks will not be granted if a trademark filing is made.
Why Can't I use my home town as my brand?
A trademark is part of your branding, a way to identify the source of your product or service. In many ways, the stronger the brand, the stronger the trademark. However, there are situations when common branding rules diverge from the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) rules. One such situation is when the mark reflects the geographic source of the product or service, known as geographic descriptiveness.
What is the difference between Trademark and Trade Dress?
Trade dress constitutes a “symbol” or “device” within the meaning of §2 of the Trademark Act. It encompasses the “total image and overall appearance” of a product, not just the packaging: the totality of the elements, including size, shape, color or color combinations, texture, and graphics. Trade dress can be the design of a product (the product shape or configuration), the packaging in which a product is sold, the color of a product or of the packaging in which a product is sold, or even the flavor of a product.
Who's in Charge of the Beer?
In the realm of brewing, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau, or TTB, evaluates things at several different stages:
- Operations approval
- Formula approval
- Beer label approval
Great American Beer Festival season is upon us and our turns our thoughts to beer. In recent years, discussions of brewing law have often revolved around trademark disputes, which have become increasingly contentious and numerous. But trademark disputes are like the early arrival of pumpkin beers: we need a break from all that. Instead, we are going to look at the decidedly less sexy—but equally important--topic of the TTB.
Can an Equitable Estoppel Defense Win the Day in Intellectual Property Infringement Cases
This blog post will be the first of a series dealing with this subject. In completing my LLC (Master of Laws) in International Business Transactions at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, I spent the last 4 1/2 months studying the subject of Intellectual Property rights in an International Business Transactions setting. This series of blogs will be about the International Trade Commission’s treatment of four affirmative defenses over the last ten years: Collateral estoppel, waiver, laches, and acquiesces. The author’s method of research involved reviewing a sampling of 85 International Trade Commission (ITC) decisions issued since January 1, 2005. Most of these cases involved hundreds of filings and some were filed by Fortune 100 companies. What this blog will deal with are the affirmative defenses raised in these cases, the elements of those defenses, and the Administrative Law Judges’ (ALJs’) treatment of those defenses.
<em>Authored by <a title="Brandon Selinsky" href="http://whitcomblawpc.mystagingwebsite.com/attorneys/brando-selinsky-trademark-and-copyright/" target="_blank">Brandon Selinsky</a></em>
Brewing Trademark Applications
Brewers and brewery owners, be diligent in your naming. The collaborative solidarity of the brewing community fissured long ago. It’s not gone--there still exists a wonderful collection of craft beer producers who will walk 10 miles uphill both ways in a snowstorm to loan you a sack of grain. Great value exists in fostering and supporting that community. But protect yourselves. You operate a business. Just as you lock your doors at night to protect your brewing assets, so should you do what is necessary to secure your company’s intellectual assets.
Inside an ITC International Patent Dispute
Last week, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) upheld, with modifications, its Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) June findings that neither ZTE Corp.’s devices nor Nokia’s phones (now made by Microsoft Corp.) violated InterDigital Inc.’s international patent rights. The ITC stated that it would release the reasoning in more detail in an upcoming opinion.
Why did the USITC issue a stay on a cease and desist order?
On June 11, 2014, the United States International Trade Commission (“Commission”) issued a stay of a cease and desist order (“CDO”) for the first time in its history. The stay was issued in In the Matter of Certain Digital Models, Digital Data, and Treatment Plans for Use in Making Incremental Dental Positioning Adjustment Appliances, the Appliances Made Therefrom, and Methods of Making the Same.