San Diego Trademark Attorney® Blog

October 2011 Archives

Time Warner Cable Obtains Trademark For "Social One"

October 21, 2011,

socialnetworks.jpgSan Diego, CA - Time Warner Cable has recently obtained exclusive trademark rights for the term "Social One," its possible future platform that may offer subscribers a way to access Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks through TV.

The nation's second largest cable provider is attempting to steer consumers back in front of their television sets by offering a "single interface" for accessing social media accounts through TV and the Web.  Time Warner has also set its sights on using the Social One brand for "computer software for use on mobile and Web platforms which aggregates content from other sources, such as social media feeds and allows users to manipulate content from other sources," according to statements in its trademark application submitted in May.

The trademark application offers a more complete description of what the "Social One" trademark will be covering by stating that it will be, "providing access via a global computer network and television to email, instant messaging and social media accounts within a single user interface; providing online access to aggregated user content, namely, text audio, and video; providing Internet access; providing email and instant messaging services; [and] transmission of news."

With Americans spending more and more time each month connecting with friends on Facebook and other social media platforms, Verizon, Comcast, and other cable TV providers are starting to incorporate the social networks into their digital cable offerings.  Verizon's Widget Bazaar allows its FiOS TV subscribers to access their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts while Comcast has promised that the next version of its interactive program guide would allow subscribers to recommend content to Facebook friends.

Facebook is also on the same playing field, with its attempts to integrate its platform with a wide variety of media services.  Last week, the social networking giant announced that it would allow TiVo and Netflix subscribers to share information with friends about what content they are watching on TV.

Anheuser-Busch Files Trademark for San Diego Area Code 619

October 14, 2011,

beer-bottle-pouring.jpgSan Diego, CA - Earlier this year, Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Company for $38.8 million and pledged an additional $1.3 million to expand Goose Island's brewing capacity to meet its rapidly growing demand. According to the Chicago Tribune, the deal included trademarks on "312 Urban Wheat" and "312 Urban Wheat Ale Goose Island Chicago," one of Goose Island's most popular beers. Anheuser-Busch recently applied for 15 additional trademarks for the area codes of major cities throughout the U.S. including San Diego's 619 and San Francisco's (415).

Anheuser-Busch's move to acquire these trademarks suggests that the company may plan to release similar pseudo-craft beers in the implicated cities to replicate the success found with Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat. The idea being that having an area code associated with a beer provides a seemingly local and authentic feel to the beer that attracts thirsty consumers. The other prevailing theory is that Anheuser-Busch simply wishes to protect itself from the threat of its competition mimicking the success of 312 by releasing beers stamped with the area code of their respective cities.

The Applications were filed on an Intent to Use basis meaning they are not yet in use in commerce. If the USPTO issues a Notice of Allowance after the trademark is published for Opposition in the Official Gazette, Anheuser Busch will be able to request extensions for up to three years if the trademark is not yet in use. The trademark only protects the area code from being used in association with products or services that are likely to be confused with Anheuser Busch's use for beer. San Diego residents should be on the lookout for an Anheuser-Busch product disguised as a 619 craft beer.

Nonprofit group not feeling so charitable over sharing trademarks

October 7, 2011,

ribbon_pink.jpgSan Diego, CA - It's no secret that nonprofit organizations compete for donation dollars. So when Americans tighten their belts during economic downturns and give less to charity, the competition between these nonprofits can be fierce.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure spends close to one million of its donated dollars every year to protect its trademarks by policing the Internet for other charities and events that use any variation of "for the cure" in its name. Thus far, the charity which has managed to raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research, has filed trademark oppositions against many small organizations that lack the funds for legal representation. Some of these nonprofits include Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure, both of which raise money for cancer research.

Many have criticized the money and efforts Komen has spent opposing other charities, often times calling the group a bully. Those who have denounced the charity, think that its aggressiveness will not only damage smaller charities, but will be counterproductive to its own.

Despite the criticism, attorneys for Komen claim that they have a legal duty to the charity to protect its more than 200 trademarks, however they try to be plausible when dealing with the small nonprofits. A Komen attorney stated, "It's never our goal to shut down a nonprofit and we try very hard to be reasonable, but it's still our obligation to make sure that our trademarks are used appropriately so there's no confusion in the marketplace over where people's money is going."

When "for the cure" is used by other charities, a likelihood of confusion exists along with the threat of a donor thinking he is giving money to one charity, but in reality giving to another. Another problem that exists is when fraudulent charities pop up on the Internet, soliciting donations from people.

Although we understand the efforts to police the trademark, we wonder if $1,000,000 a year and 200 trademarks are really necessary.