Trademarks and Brands

Icelandic Football Chant Subject of Trademark Dispute

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Friday, 30 March, 2018

When Icelandic football fans dressed as Vikings started chanting "Hú" at the European Championship finals in 2016, "hú" knew the chant would end up the subject of a trademark dispute?

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Topics: trademark infringement, trademark

Dairy Queen and W. B. Mason Spar Over Use of "Blizzard"

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Wednesday, 28 March, 2018

If you're a soft-serve ice cream aficionado, you probably know what a Blizzard is. US-based Dairy Queen starting using the name Blizzard in 1946 — and now serves the sweet treats upside down (we'll get to that later). Then there's W. B. Mason, an American office products company, that has been using the name Blizzard on printer paper and bottled water sold in its stores.

Dairy Queen recently sued W. B. Mason claiming that use of its Blizzard trademark constitutes "unfair competition and false designation of origin." Just days later, W. B. Mason filed suit asking a US federal court to declare that its use of Blizzard is not infringing on Dairy Queen's Blizzard trademark. The Boston Herald reports that attorneys for W. B. Mason wrote: "Indeed, no reasonable person would ever mistakenly believe that copy paper or spring water sold by W.B. Mason and emblazoned with the W.B. MASON mark and logo emanates from, or is associated with (Dairy Queen).” W. B. Mason goes on to claim that the two companies operate in "fundamentally different business lines."

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Topics: trademark infringement, trademark

EU Court Rules Against Crocs Design Protection

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Friday, 23 March, 2018

The EU General Court has dismissed US-based shoe company Crocs' appeal against the EUIPO to cancel legal protection of its shoe design. The court ruling upheld a 2016 EUIPO decision that had declared the Crocs’ design registration invalid because it lacked novelty.

In 2013, French company Gifi Diffusion filed an application with the EUIPO contesting Crocs’ EU design registration, basing it on the EU rule that a design cannot be made public more than one year before filing. Gifi claimed that Crocs first showed its design in 2002 — two years before filing its design mark in the United States.

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Topics: trademark

EU Court Rejects "Mafia" Restaurant Trademark

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Wednesday, 21 March, 2018

The European Union's General Court last week rejected an appeal by a Spanish company to keep European trademark protection for its marketing slogan its marketing slogan "La Mafia se sienta a la mesa" (translation: "The Mafia's at the table"). The court agreed with a complaint by the Italian government that it was immoral to trade on the name of a criminal organization that it said is known for a long list of criminal activities, which it enumerated, including money laundering, racketeering, and drug trafficking.

The chain, La Mafia, which operates 40 Italian-food restaurants in Spain applied for an EU-wide trademark with the EUIPO in 2006. The trademark features lettering that resembles that of 'The Godfather' films, along with the "take a seat at the table" slogan.

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Topics: trademark The Potential Paved Road to Protecting Highly Descriptive and Generic Terms Combined with Top-Level Domain Extensions

by Lee J. Eulgen and Bari L. Nathan, Guest Bloggers on Tuesday, 20 March, 2018

A word or logo can only function as a trademark if it is distinctive (i.e., capable of identifying and distinguishing the goods and services with which it is used from others’ goods and services) and, as most readers of this blog will readily recognize, a trademark’s distinctiveness ranges along a spectrum, sometimes called a hierarchy of marks. In order from least distinctive to most distinctive, the categories of distinctiveness are: generic, descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary, and fanciful. 

Marks that are suggestive, arbitrary, or fanciful are deemed sufficiently distinct to automatically function as trademarks. Descriptive marks, on the other hand, are not considered inherently distinctive, and can only function as a trademark if they have obtained secondary meaning (also known as acquired distinctiveness) in the minds of consumers. Generic terms are common identifiers for a type or category of product or service (e.g., “E-MAIL” used to identify an e-mail service, or “FITNESS CENTER” used to identify fitness centers or gyms) and, as such, the law does not allow these types of terms to be protected as proprietary to one party and registered as trademarks. This treatment of generic terms is based on the principle that people and companies deserve the right to accurately identify and describe their products and services, and granting a single party an exclusive right to a generic term would unfairly impede competition. 

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Topics: domains, trademark


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