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Good-for-you Snack Bars Face Off in Trademark Battle

February 27, 2014,

Granola-bar.jpgSan Diego - According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the maker of KIND snacks is suing Clif Bar & Company for trade dress infringement over its soon-to-be released Mojo Bars. Kind LLC alleges that Clif unlawfully copied the design and packaging of its product line, making small changes over time to ultimately create a product that looks confusingly similar to KIND snacks.

In the filing, Kind points out how Clif's Mojo bar went from resembling the rest of the Clif Bar products to standing apart from them by appearing strikingly similar to Kind's bars. Specifically, Kind claims that "The new Mojo trade dress reflects a new and dramatic leap over the line in what appears to have been a calculated progression of incremental changes, designed each time to get closer and closer to the trade dress of Kind bars and farther and farther from the package design elements that would associate the product with the Clif brand."

Clif Bar & Company , which is headquartered in Northern California, is one of the country's leading energy bar and snack companies. Founded in 1992, the company's line of products is vast and includes bars specifically marketed toward women and children, in addition to its core CLIF varieties. In its years of operation, the company has been very successful, with its CEOs turning down a $120 million offer from Quaker Oats to buy the company in 2012.

Kind LLC, in contrast, is smaller and newer than Clif Bar & Company. The KIND brand was developed in 2004 and includes two main product lines, namely KIND Fruit & Nut and KIND PLUS. Its founder and CEO, Daniel Lubetzky, recently said of its trademark issues, "Clif is a long-standing and well-respected competitor in the nutritional bar marketplace, which makes this imminent release of a copy-cat product particularly disappointing." While making no formal comment as to the lawsuit, Clif showed no sign of backing down, stating," We're excited by the launch of our Clif Mojo Fruit and Nut and Clif Mojo Dark Chocolate flavors...Retailers and consumers are thrilled to have a fruit and nut and dark chocolate snack bar made with 70 percent organic ingredients."

"Famous Jameis" Trademark Gets Swooped Up by Alabama Fan

November 12, 2013,

football.jpgSan Diego - A doctor from Birmingham, Alabama has filed a U.S. Trademark Application for "Famous Jameis", the same nickname that has been recently popularized as referring to Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston. The application was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") on October 24, 2013 in connection with "Athletic pants; Athletic shirts; Body shirts; Clothing for athletic use, namely, padded pants; Clothing for athletic use, namely, padded shirts; Golf shirts; Gym pants; Hats; Hooded sweat shirts; Shirts; Shirts and short-sleeved shirts; Sport shirts; Sports caps and hats; Sports pants; Sports shirts; Sweat pants; Sweat shirts; T-shirts; Tee shirts."

Dr. Mukul Mehra, who attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, has no official ties to the standout Florida Seminoles Player, who grew up in a suburb of Birmingham. With respect to the filing, Mehra denied that he chose the trademark solely because of Jameis Winston, saying, "It's not necessarily geared toward him... I don't know what our intent completely is. We haven't worked all of that out." He has, however, already approached an Alabama sports marketing company about manufacturing t-shirts branded with the "Famous Jameis" trademark.

Whether the Examining Attorney at the USPTO will realize that the moniker has come to fame as a nickname for an actual person remains to be seen. Regardless, given the publicity the filing has garnered, it is likely that Mr. Winston himself has learned about the application and perhaps he will consider opposing the application or even buying it. Indeed, it seems that Mehra has already considered this as he was quoted as saying, "If it's something they're interested in using, we could potentially market it together."

This situation draws parallels to the contentious dispute that arose last year when a California businessman filed a trademark application for NBA player Jeremy Lin's "Linsanity" nickname. After months of legal back and forth, the USPTO finally awarded Lin the trademark. Both Lin and Winston shot to sports stardom in relatively short periods of time, gaining huge fan bases and large social media followings in a matter of months. With Winston's popularity only rising as the Seminoles push towards a potential BCS title and he continues to be brought up in Heisman talks, the trademark associated with his name only seems to be growing in value. The question remains, however, whether Winston or someone else will be the one to profit from it.

Starbucks' New Trademark Filing Reveals Plans for Fizzy Drinks

October 16, 2013,

soda.jpgSan Diego - A recently filed Trademark Application by Starbucks Corporation may evidence the coffee giant's intent to branch out into the market of carbonated beverages. The Application, which was filed on September 30, 2013, is for the name "STARBUCKS FIZZIO." It covers five classes, including milk based drinks, sparkling beverages and "machines for the production of beverages."

The filing gives an inside glimpse into what might possibly be Starbucks' next big move. Its recent introduction of carbonated drinks into select test markets furthers the theory that fizzy drinks are next up for the company best known for its fresh brewed coffee and caffeine-filled blended drinks. Still, Starbucks has been keeping mum as one spokesperson said that it has "not announced any plans about expanded availability" of the fizzy beverages outside of the current test markets of Atlanta and Austin.

Further speculation has led to thought that the Trademark Application's inclusion of beverage making machines might be a step towards Starbuck's production of a device that could compete with Sodastream. As the world's bestselling and most popular carbonated beverage machine, Sodastream seems to have almost complete control over the self-serve soda market with no established competitors. Starbucks may be looking to change this, especially given its already demonstrated interest and success with at-home beverage devices, such as the Starbucks Verismo. Despite this, a Starbucks rep was recently quoted as saying that the company does "not have plans for an at-home machine at this time."

Starbucks' push into the carbonated beverages arena would be another in a string of advances into markets outside of coffee. The company has made it a recent pattern to try out new products in select test markets, buy out smaller successful companies and then market the products nationwide in its more than 13,000 U.S. retail locations. Some of its more recent acquisitions include Evolution Fresh juices, La Boulange baked goods, and Teavana tea. Even further pushing the limits of development, Starbucks recently introduced "Starbucks Evening" locations in six U.S. cities, which feature beer, wine and snacks. Considering this rate of expansion into new areas, "Starbucks Fizzio," may very well be the next thing served up in white and green cups.

Judge Sides with SeaWorld in Fight for Aquatica Trademark

July 15, 2013,

water-slide.jpgSan Diego - A judge in California Federal Court Tuesday refused the request by Spiraledge, Inc. to impose an injunction to bar SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. from use of the trademark "Aquatica" for its water parks nationwide.

U.S. District Court Judge William Q. Hayes ruled that Spiraledge had failed to show that SeaWorld's use of the name "Aquatica" for its chain of water parks had damaged the reputation of its "Aquatica"-branded swimsuits. The judge noted that Spiraledge had waited 13 months to file a lawsuit against the water park operator and failed to provide evidence of loss of sales based on any confusion.

Spiraledge filed its application for "Aquatica" on an intent-to-use basis in February 2005 for use in relation to swimwear, and began sales of Aquatica-branded swimsuits in 2008. The trademark was registered in December 2011 with registration number 4,077,618.

Busch Entertainment Corporation, which was acquired by Seaworld in 2009, filed its trademark application for "Aquatica" for amusement parks seven months after Spiraledge in September 2005. The application has been stalled ever since based on Spiraledge's prior filing. The Examining Attorney for this trademark suspended the registration in April, citing the pending civil action as well as a likelihood of confusion between this trademark and the one held by Spiraledge.

Busch has successfully obtained registration for a separate trademark for "Aquatica" and "Aquatica SeaWorld's Waterpark," both for use in drinking vessels. However, applications for "Aquatica Seaworld's Waterpark" for use in amusement park services as well as clothing have also been suspended pending trial.

Since its acquisition of Busch in 2009, Seaworld has begun to operate the three water parks in Chula Vista, California, Orlando, Florida and San Antonio, Texas, all named Aquatica.

Spiraledge has argued that SeaWorld's use of the term "Aquatica" violates its trademark protection. It argues that the suspension of the "Aquatica" trademark held by SeaWorld demonstrates that the two trademarks are too similar and would lead to confusion among consumers.

This victory for SeaWorld could be short-lived. The case will proceed in federal court, and SeaWorld is free to continue use of the name "Aquatica" for its water parks until a verdict is reached. However, the possibility remains that the court could ultimately decide to force SeaWorld to cease use of the trademark "Aquatica."

Disney Wins Dismissal in Feud Over TINKERBELL Trademark

April 2, 2013,

disney.jpgSan Diego - A 3-way dispute over the rights to use TINKERBELL as a trademark for cosmetics ended when a panel of three judges determined that Icebox-Scoops, Inc., a Dutch company, could not maintain a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co.

Icebox-Scoops licensed the TINKERBELL trademark in 2005 from Finanz St. HonoreBV, a Netherlands based company. Finanz filed a U.S. Trademark for the TINKERBELL trademark in 1982 for "Children's Cosmetics-Namely, Cologne, Bath Oil, Body Lotion, Body Powder, Bubble Bath, Skin Cream and Sachet" and the trademark registered in 1983.

In 2000, Finanz's rights to the TINKERBELL trademark were affirmed in litigation with Disney. Disney had tried to obtain the trademark due to the well-known character from its "Peter Pan" movie. Disney did not prevail in that case which ended with the two companies entering into a Settlement Agreement.

Thereafter, Finanz entered into the licensing agreement with Icebox-Scoops to create TINKERBELL merchandise. Specifically, Icebox-Scoops was to distribute a TINKERBELL line of beauty products geared toward young women.

However, shortly after entering into the license agreement with Icebox-Scoops, Franz decided to sell the trademark to Disney which cut off Icebox-Scoops's right to use the trademark well before the 5 year license had ended.

As a result of the termination of the license, Icebox-Scoops sued Disney for unjust enrichment and tortious interference. Icebox-Scoops believed that Disney should not have bought the TINKERBELL trademark from Finanz if Disney knew that the license agreement was in place at the time of the purchase. Unfortunately for Icebox-Scoops, Disney disagreed, and so apparently did the 2nd Circuit Court.

The 2nd Circuit held that Icebox-Scoops did nothing to enrich Disney and also did nothing for Disney's benefit and therefore the 2nd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the unjust enrichment claim. As for the tortious interference claim, the 2nd Circuit held that it was made after the statute of limitations was up and so it also could not be maintained.

Though the case against Disney has been dismissed, Icebox-Scoops' case against Finanz is ongoing. Thus far the two have not been able to reach a settlement.

Facebook Argues TIMELINES is a Generic Trademark, Rival Disagrees

March 11, 2013,

facebook.jpgSan Diego - Timelines, Inc. argued in an opposition filed Wednesday that the company's TIMELINES trademark is not too generic to deserve protection and that Facebook, Inc.'s timeline feature on its popular networking site infringes the trademark.

The company filed the opposition in response to Facebook's motion for summary judgment requesting that the lawsuit be dismissed. The trademark infringement lawsuit began when Timelines sued Facebook one week after it learned the social media website had launched a new feature that allows users of the website to create virtual timelines with photos, videos, and other media devices.

As Timelines' website provides users a relatively similar online service, the company filed the lawsuit against Facebook alleging trademark infringement and claiming that Facebook's new feature would drive Timelines out of business.

In its motion for summary judgment, Facebook argued that though Timelines has three U.S. trademark registrations for the word TIMELINES in conjunction with software services provided over the internet, the term is generic and does not warrant protection. The January 31st motion claimed that since the term is defined as "an arrangement of events or other information in chronological order," and Timelines provides a service that allows users to record and connect events in a specific order, the trademark is merely descriptive of its services.

Timelines countered that genericness should be determined by a jury, rather than in a motion for summary judgment, due to the fact-intensive nature of the process. Timelines also countered Facebook's claims that the term's genericness is evidenced by its appearance in numerous dictionaries.

"Facebook forgets that its very name comes from the 'generic' name that was given to certain college picture books known as 'face books,'" Timelines said. "Moreover, Facebook's own trademark history demonstrates that it seeks trademark protection for terms that appear in dictionaries, including 14 trademark applications for the term 'like' alone, almost all of which concern Facebook's 'Like' button, which its users click on when they ... like something."

Timelines is seeking damages and a permanent injunction prohibiting Facebook from using TIMELINES or any similar version of the trademark. Facebook is requesting a declaratory judgment that the website's timeline feature does not infringe Timelines' trademarks in addition to cancellation of those trademarks.

'FarmVille' Creator Sues Competitor for Infringing VILLE Trademark

February 21, 2013,

zynga.jpgSan Diego - "FarmVille" owner Zynga Inc. filed a lawsuit against Imagenesis Corp. claiming that the company's soon-to-be-released "MafiaVille" game infringes its VILLE trademarks.

Zynga filed the lawsuit in Maryland federal court on Tuesday, alleging Imagenesis' use of the name MafiaVille will infringe several trademarks Zynga owns in connection to its social media games such as "CityVille," "PetVille," "FrontierVille" and "FarmVille."
Zynga claimed that over 65 million people play its "Ville" games each month on various platforms including Facebook and mobile phone apps and that consumers have associated the VILLE trademarks with Zynga long before Imagenesis even thought of the name MafiaVille.

In December 2010, Zynga discovered that Imagenesis had registered the domain name and was using the website to promote the "MafiaVille" game. Zynga sent Imagenesis a cease and desist letter to notify Imagenesis of its trademark rights and to demand that it stop using the name.

Imagenesis chose to continue use of the name and filed a trademark application for MAFIAVILLE with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Imagenesis also filed for a declaratory judgment in Maryland federal court asking for a ruling that the name MafiaVille does not infringe or dilute Zynga's trademarks. However, Imagenesis failed to have counsel appear on its behalf and the action was dismissed.

In the complaint, Zynga alleged that not only did Imagenesis know of Zynga's success with its various Ville games in the social gaming sphere before naming its game "MafiaVille," but also that Imagenesis actually chose the name in order to benefit from Zynga's success with its "Ville" games and its game "Mafia Wars."

The company alleged that the name MafiaVille is likely to cause confusion and deceive players into thinking that the game is either made by Zynga or is in some way connected with it. Zynga also claimed that as Imagenesis is aware of Zynga's VILLE trademarks, Imagenesis is willfully infringing its trademarks and is attempting to take advantage of the goodwill Zynga has spent years developing.

Zynga is alleging trademark infringement, dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition. The company is seeking to block the MAFIAVILLE trademark, an injunction preventing Imagenesis from using the name, damages, Imagenesis' profits earned from using the name and treble damages.

Neil Young Files Trademarks for Pono Brand

December 20, 2012,

music.jpgSan Diego - Neil Young has filed two trademark applications in order to promote his impending music service Pono. Pono will offer digital-to-analog music downloads along with portable music players.

Young has long looked down upon the quality of music available for MP3 players and the big businesses that he claims do not know what good music should sound like. According to his new memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, Young is attempting to "rescue recorded sound so people can feel music again."

Pono, which is Hawaiian for righteous, will attempt to provide music that is "the best it can be". He wants the music to have all of the nuance and clarity of the original work and Young will have each song certified by the artist or record company that owns the rights to the work before it will be offered on Pono.

Young has begun testing the Pono sound by playing his digital-to-analog tracks in a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado for big names in music, such as Kid Rock, Beastie Boys' Mike D, members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Tom Petty. He recorded the various artists' reaction to the music to use in marketing campaigns.

Young filed trademark applications for PONO PROMISE and 21ST CENTURY DIGITAL near the beginning of December, both of which he is already using on his website, Young registered the trademarks for both online and retail store services along with MP3 players and other devices used to listen to music and music cases.

Investor Gigi Brisson, who registered the domain name and is listed in a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing as a director of one of Young's companies Ivanhoe Inc., said that it is too early to say much about Pono. He said that the company is still in its infancy and anything could happen, as there are still too many variables involved.

Young, however, has put Pono on Facebook and Twitter and has been trying to spread word about the project. According to tweets by Young, Pono's web-based music library will be in place by summer 2013 and he expects to have digital-to-analog portable players ready for purchase around the same time.

"Tebowing" Moves One Step Closer To Registered Trademark Status With USPTO

November 5, 2012,

football.jpgSan Diego - Tim Tebow's "Tebowing" slogan is now one-step closer to trademark registration. "Tebowing" became a widespread phenomenon when the second year player now with the New York Jets was photographed bowing in prayer in the end zone. His pose, head bowed, down on one knee, with a clenched fist against his forehead quickly became a sports fan favorite.

Not long after the pose became popular, Jared Kleinstein, a Denver-born Broncos fan, started a website,, and began using Tebow as a verb. At that time, Tebow approved of the growing phenomenon, even going as far as to say he loved the hype over "Tebowing" on his twitter account. Later that year, Kleinstein filed an application to trademark the slogan "Tebowing" and began to sell items of clothing with the phrase on it.

However, as the Kleinstein application moved forward, XV Enterprises, a marketing and consulting firm owned by Tim Tebow, protested the application. Through his trademark attorney, Tebow argued that consumers would incorrectly think the Kleinstein goods were connected to Tebow or his charity the Tim Tebow Foundation. XV Enterprises hopes to register the trademark on Tebow's behalf for use on such items as clothing, pencil sharpeners, and holiday ornaments.

Because of XV Enterprises' opposition, the trademark office issued a refusal of registration to Kleinstein in February saying the material "includes matter which falsely suggests a connection with Tim Tebow. Accordingly, registration is refused under Trademark Act Section 2(a)." U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records show that there have been a number of applications for Tebow related trademarks in the last year. Most of the applications have already been rejected. After Kleinstein's recent application for "Tebowing" was rejected, Tebow's company immediately filed an application to claim the trademark.

In early October, the trademark "Tebowing" was published for opposition. As such, the trademark will be published and anyone who wants to oppose the registration has 30 days to provide adequate reasoning why the registration should not move forward. If no one opposes the registration, or the opposition is ruled to be unsubstantiated, then Tim Tebow's company will officially own the trademark for "Tebowing".

TTAB Rejects "Verde" Power Supply Trademark As Merely Descriptive

October 10, 2012,

power on.jpgSan Diego - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has affirmed a PTO examiner's refusal to register the trademark "Verde" to Verde Power Supply Inc., saying the proposed trademark as used in connection with the company's goods is only descriptive.

Verde Power Supply refused to provide the examiner with information she requested during the registration process about the company's business operations, on the grounds that doing so would reveal its trade secrets, the TTAB said. TTABlog first reported the board's ruling on Wednesday.

The company applied to register the trademark in January 2010 for electrical and electronic devices for power supply technology, including power supply units, current-voltage converters, DC converters and electronic power supply circuitry.

After the company declined to divulge its claimed trade secrets, the examining attorney asked whether the goods are energy efficient or environmentally friendly. Verde Power Supply did not acknowledge the questions or provide any information regarding the goods, and did not mention them on appeal either, the TTAB said.

"Applicant did not contest the revised request on the ground that it would require applicant to divulge trade secrets, or that it was not legitimate; applicant did not make any response to this request whatsoever," the board said.

The examiner's questions regarding energy efficiency and environmental friendliness were proper to ask, as they concern facts that pertain to the descriptiveness refusal, the TTAB said.

Noncompliance with a legitimate requirement for information or materials can, in and of itself, be a valid basis for denying registration, according to the board.
"We make the presumption that the answers to the examining attorney's questions would be unfavorable to applicant, and that applicant's goods are both environmentally friendly and energy efficient," it said.

The trademark "Verde" would directly and immediately convey to the purchasers of electrical and electronic devices that the equipment in question is environmentally friendly, the board said.

TTAB Judge Ellen Seeherman dissented from the majority ruling, saying that the PTO has failed to prove that "Verde" is merely descriptive.

The office has not shown that Spanish-speaking purchasers of Verde Power Supply's goods would understand "Verde" as having the meaning of energy efficient or environmentally friendly, or that those purchasers would immediately understand from the trademark athat the goods have those qualities, she said.

PTO Gets Tough On Green Trademark Claims

October 5, 2012,

kumquat_tree_.jpgSan Diego - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has quietly adopted a more stringent approach to registering "green" trademarks, in practice if not in policy, requiring that applicants demonstrate their genuine environmentally friendly qualities.
Trademark examiners have reportedly started to deny increasing numbers of applications for green trademarks that do not include a statement of environmental friendliness. The trend was first noted by in early October, and Forbes subsequently picked up the story, but neither article directly cited hard evidence in support of the reports.

The PTO is said to be refusing the trademark applications on the grounds that the Lanham Act allows it to deny applications that contain deceptive content. Such a justification could suggest that the PTO is taking the initiative to aid in combating the practice of "greenwashing" products that do not actually live up to their green claims.
The PTO, for its part, said no policy change was afoot.

"Contrary to recent reports, the PTO has not adopted a new policy for trademark applications that include the word 'green,'" a PTO representative said Friday. "In fact, there has been no recent policy statement or change in this area."
"All applications are reviewed for statutory compliance with the provisions of the Trademark Act, including Section 2(a) which prohibits the registration of deceptive matter (among other things)," the representative said.

The PTO declined to comment on whether any recent denials of applications could have given rise to policy rumors.

The office doesn't have to adopt or announce any formal new policy to subject green trademarks to greater scrutiny, though, trademark attorney Michael Tschupp said. The PTO already has guidelines and procedures in place for examiners confronted with potentially deceptive matter in a trademark, and that guidance includes provisions for environmental claims, he said.

Tschupp, the proprietor of green trademark news blog, said his own clients have not yet reported any newly aggressive approaches to their green trademarks on the part of PTO examiners. Applicants can expect to see more denials based on deceptiveness going forward, though, he said.

When a trademark conveys some information about a product that is not accurate, the PTO has two basic options, Tschupp said: refuse to register it on grounds of misdescriptiveness, or go a step further and refuse it as deceptive.

A misdescriptiveness refusal can be overcome, and still leaves open the possibility of registering the trademark on the supplemental register, rather than the principal register, Tschupp said. A refusal based on deception, though, is more serious, making the trademark unregisterable under any circumstances, and that is what applicants are now starting to see at the PTO, he said.

An increase in those refusals for green trademarks could lead to challenges to environmental friendliness claims showing up in trademark infringement disputes and litigation, Tschupp said.

"As people are now having to explicitly make these claims in their applications, defendants are going to be able to challenge the underlying environmental benefit of these products," he said. "It basically creates a whole new defense."
The reports of green trademark refusals come on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission's recent updates to its Green Guides on environmental marketing claims.
The Green Guides outline general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims and provide guidance regarding many specific environmental benefit claims. The guides explain how reasonable consumers likely interpret each such claim, describe the basic elements necessary to substantiate it, and present options for qualifying it to avoid deception.

Both the PTO and FTC developments can be seen as part of a greater attempt to crack down on greenwashing on the part of the Obama administration, according to Tschupp. Trademark examiners in particular now have much better guidelines for defining what is and is not green to use as a basis for deceptiveness decisions, Tschupp said.
"They have a measuring stick they didn't really have before," he said.

NBA Player Anthony Davis Register's Monobrow Trademarks With USPTO

July 2, 2012,

basketball.jpgSan Diego - It has been a banner year for sport's stars and their trademarked catchphrases. Witnessing the popularity of trademark licensing and the tremendous opportunity to profit from marketing products with trademarked names and phrases, it seems that athletes are scrambling to find the latest popular catchphrase to trademark.

Jeremy Lin filed for Linsanity, Tim Tebow filed for Tebowing, Bryce Harper filed for "That's a Clown Question, Brow", and now basketball phenom Anthony Davis has filed for "Fear the Brow" and "Raise the Brow" for trademark protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Davis stated that he filed the trademark applications to ensure that no other parties would profit from the feature that has made him instantly recognizable. And although most people would not consider the possession of a uni-brow a positive attribute, the basketball star insists that it is one of his best features and he intends to profit from it.

In addition to the profits for Davis and his family from the uni-brow trend, Anthony Davis is riding a wave of popularity since he was drafted last Thursday. Known as much for his connected eyebrows as his on-the-court abilities, Davis was celebrated with top selling t-shirts sold during Wildcat games that read, "Fear the Brow".

Among his accomplishments, Davis garnered countless awards, led Kentucky to an undefeated 2011-2012 season, helped his team win the 2012 NCAA Basketball Championship and won the NCAA Tournament Outstanding Player award. The power forward and center played just one year with the Kentucky Wildcats before announcing plans to forego the remainder of his college career and become a professional.

Considering the risks and rewards, fans, coaches and sports analysts were surprised by the move. However, given the tremendous momentum of Davis' career thus far, most experts anticipate a smooth transition from college to professional player. And as a first round pick by the New Orleans Hornets, the start of the rookie's first year is highly anticipated. No information has been released yet about potential manufacturers of apparel or sports memorabilia, but given the spectacular rise to fame of the young basketball star, it is likely that the eyebrow trend will prompt successful sales of fan gear.

Gucci Wins Trademark Battle Against Guess

June 11, 2012,

purse.jpgSan Diego - The fashion industry has long been rife with unauthorized copying of designs, logos and fabrics. Quite simply, it's much cheaper and easier to copy successful designs than to create new ones from scratch. Moreover, new designs come out so frequently that designers ignore most knock-off copies of their products. Lawsuits are often time-consuming and expensive. While it can be difficult for a company to copyright a design, a company can register elements of a design as a trademark. For example, the shape of a bag's flap, patterns on fabric, fabric closures or the look and feel of a strap can be registered for trademark protection with the USPTO.

Despite the prevalence of copies and the difficulty prosecuting knock-off designs, there have been a number of high profile fashion houses that have bucked the trend and taken competitors to court to protect distinctive designs. Luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin took its rival Yves Saint Laurent to court to protect its famous red-soled shoe, Hermes sued a retailer that sold a transparent rubber version of its Birkin Bag, and most recently, Gucci took Guess to court over unauthorized use of its four distinctive logo designs.

Though the lawsuit was initiated over three years ago, a federal judge recently handed down a decision that awarded monetary damages for the unauthorized copy of design elements by Guess and its footwear licensee, Marc Fisher. Gucci was also granted an injunction to prevent the use of three of four well-known "Square G" trademarks named in the original lawsuit. The trademarks listed in the lawsuit were the green and red stripe, the interlocking "G" pattern, the square "G" and the brand name's delicate script font . In its original pleadings the Italian company asked for $120 million dollars in damages, claiming Guess's appropriation of its logos diluted its brand, confused customers and caused it to lose profits.

The case, decided in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, primarily hinged on the use of the interlocking "G" logo on Guess handbags. The luxury design label argued that some of the Guess designs were too similar to its own to be anything less than "studied imitations". Gucci also objected to the use of its recognizable brown and beige material and design elements such as the distinctive green-red-green stripe. The $4.66 million dollar award against the Los Angeles based company, represented the profit made by all products utilizing the unauthorized logo. Despite its win, Gucci claimed that the damages awarded represent only a tiny slice of the money obtained from the wallets, belts, shoes and other items designed to mimimic it's designs. However, Judge Shira Scheindlin held that Gucci was not entitled to further damages reflecting lost sales or harm to its brand, calling its analysis for computing damages "highly speculative."

USPTO Grants Trademark Ownership of "Linsanity" to Jeremy Lin

June 5, 2012,

basketball.jpgSan Diego - The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued office actions recently showing that it will register the term "Linsanity" to NBA player Jeremy Lin. The catchphrase had become the source of much talk and argument in the last year. With the meteoric rise of the young player from undrafted nobody, to starter with the New York Knicks, Lin gave the fans the chance to cheer for something different and unique. However, clearly there were other people who had aspirations of capitalizing on the newest NBA catchphrase. Lin's filing came six days after a filing by a California man in early February, as well as additional filings by unrelated individuals on February 9th and 14th.

The USPTO typically grants trademark rights to users who file first. However, due to the fact that the LINSANITY trademark contains Lin's name and is a clear reference to him, the USPTO has rejected the applications filed by persons other than Jeremy Lin.

Jeremy Lin is a California native who went to Harvard University and managed to garner a contract with the Golden State Warriors after graduating in 2010. Despite not having had a scholarship or any draft prospects after graduation, Lin achieved success against all odds.

One of just a few Asian Americans in the NBA, Lin seldom saw any court time and was assigned to the NBA Development League three times in his rookie season. He was later waived by the Warriors, and then the Houston Rockets, before being picked up by a third team, the New York Knicks. Lin joined the Knicks for the 2011-2012 season, and despite playing in the Development League for a good portion of the season, ended up leading the Knicks to a surprising winning streak at the end of the season. The subsequent global following has been labeled "Linsanity" by fans and has generated much talk in the last year.

The use of trademarked terms and catchphrases in professional sports has long been a huge moneymaker for owners, players and purveyors of sporting goods. Lin's status on the court may be questionable next year, but he is still a huge draw with fans. And with the global success of Lin's shoes, jerseys, fan gear and ticket sales, "Linsanity" will undoubtedly continue, at least for a little while longer.

Beyonce and Jay-Z Trademark Their Baby's Name

May 29, 2012,

concert.jpgSan Diego - While it is not surprising to see the wide variety of unique baby monikers popping up everywhere, some may see it as surprising to see that Beyonce and Jay-Z have recently trademarked their new baby's name "Blue Ivy".

On its face, one might think it seems downright crazy that someone would go to the trouble and expense of actually trying to prevent other parents from using a particular name. However, there is more to their seeming madness than meets the eye.

Though the birth of a child or a child itself would not necessarily be considered unique and original enough to necessitate trademark protection, the use of a baby's name for product branding the incentive for Trademark protection. In this case, the branding of future products is the ultimate goal Beyonce and Jay-Z had in mind. As the creators of a number of popular clothing lines and other products, both Beyonce and Jay-Z, are no strangers to the world of product branding. It is also not surprising that they would consider the birth of their first child ample inspiration for the creation of a line of clothing or other items. Born January 7th, in New York City, it is speculated that little Blue Ivy will most likely be the miniature muse for a future line of baby clothing and children's items.

So what does that mean for the average parent looking to name their child Blue Ivy or parents seeking to protect their own unique moniker? Trademarking a name obviously does not prevent other parents from using your child's name. As such, parents would only be protected from other parents trying to financially profit from the use of a registered name. For example, if you named your child Greyhound, the bus company would only have a claim if you created a rival bus company named after and based around your offspring. So those of you looking to name your baby Blue Ivy, feel free to use the name, as long as you don't plan on using the name later to start a clothing line or any other similar project for profit.