Candy Crush Embarks on a Trademark “Saga” 0

Candy Crush Embarks on a Trademark “Saga”

Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in Trademark

If you have not played Candy Crush Saga, you probably know someone who has.  In light of the enormous popularity of the game, the developer of the game, King, sought to protect the name of the game through trademark law.  Specifically, King has sought to protect both the words “Candy” and “Saga.”  Some people believe these terms are too generic for trademark protection and King has received a fair amount of criticism over its trademark filings.  The situation merits a closer look to see what would motivate a company like King to seek trademark protection the way it did. King filed for a mark for the word “Candy” in the European Union.  The application was approved on January 15 of 2014 and other parties have 30 days to oppose the trademark.  The mark was listed in many categories such as games, game accessories, merchandise, and paper hats.  In the United States, this application may have been rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but you can never truly predict what the office examiners will do. King also filed a trademark application for the word “Saga” in the United States back in 2011.  Meanwhile, another game company named Stoic Studio filed a trademark application for the name of...

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Trademark Infringement in The Dark Knight 0

Trademark Infringement in The Dark Knight

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013 in Trademark

Trademark infringement suits happen every day and Hollywood is no exception.  On May 16th of 2013, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana decided a lawsuit against Warner Bros. for the Clean Slate program in The Dark Knight Rises.  For those who may not remember, in the movie the Clean Slate program that could erase a person’s entire history.  This of course is not to be confused with Tony Stark’s Clean Slate program to destroy his Iron Man suits. Warner Bros. was sued by Fortres Grand Corporation.  Fortres Grand started selling a real life Clean Slate in 2000 and registered a trademark for it in 2001.  The nonfictional program protects computer networks by erasing all evidence of user activity so later users see none of the previous user’s activity.  Fortres Grand sued Warner Bros. for trademark infringement for not only the movie but two websites Warner Bros. made for Rykin Data, the fictitious company which developed Clean Slate in the movie.  Fortres Grand claimed Warner Bros. committed trademark infringement by using a fictional product that was similar to their real product.  Warner Bros. responded with a motion to dismiss the case. The Court analyzed Fortres Grand’s reverse confusion theory  that Warner Bros. saturated the market...

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Is ‘Redskins’ Too Offensive to be Trademarked? 0

Is ‘Redskins’ Too Offensive to be Trademarked?

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Trademark

The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board, the TTAB, has recently heard a case to determine if the Washington Redskins name is disparaging, and therefore should be stripped of its protected trademark status. This has been a long disputed issue. The case was organized by Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the advocacy group the Morning Star Institute. The lead plaintiff is Amanda Blackhorse, a young Native American, who believes the term ‘redskin’ to be a racial slur. Harjo was famously the lead plaintiff on Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo, a series of cases which was first brought in 1992, and wasn’t fully decided until the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case in 2009.  see Harjo v. Pro-Football Inc., 1994 TTAB LEXIS 9, 30 U.S.P.Q.2d 1828, 1831 (TTAB 1994); Harjo v. Pro Football Inc., 50 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1705, 1749 (TTAB 1999); Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo, 415 F.3d 44 (D.C. Cir. 2005); Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo, 567 F. Supp. 2d 46 (D.D.C. 2008) ; Pro Football, Inc. v. Harjo, 565 F.3d 880 (D.C. Cir. 2009); certiorari denied by Harjo v. Pro-Football, 2009 U.S. LEXIS 8206 (U.S., Nov. 16, 2009). That 17 year long series of cases was ultimately decided on a technicality, the doctrine of laches, and the courts had not...

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Loss of Trademark Rights: Embracing Negative Trademarks 0

Loss of Trademark Rights: Embracing Negative Trademarks

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Trademark

Red Sox fans, Mets fans, and baseball fans of any team other than the Yankees will tell you that the Yankees are evil. Now, so have a panel of federal judges. Last month, the Yankees successfully blocked a trademark application by Evil Enterprises for the phrase “Baseball’s Evil Empire”. Evil Enterprises initially applied for a trademark back in July of 2008, and it’s been the source of a five year fight between the baseball club and the t-shirt makers since. The phrase originated back in 2002 when an executive of the Boston Red Sox first used it to disparage the Yankees. Since then, it has been popularly used in articles, sports columns, and TV highlight shows as a label for the Yankees. The Yankees have never used the phrase themselves, however, and that is why this is such an interesting trademark case. The team argued that they have “implicitly embraced” the “Evil Empire” theme as a “badge of honor” by playing music from Star Wars during their home games. The team does not necessarily want to make t-shirts with the phrase on it, yet they still wish to block others from doing so. The Yankees had not registered the trademark for itself. But, nonetheless, they now own the trademark....

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Trademark Abandonment: When Enforcement Conflicts With Other Obligations 0

Trademark Abandonment: When Enforcement Conflicts With Other Obligations

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Trademark

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last year as a freshman, and is widely considered one of the best football players in the country. His nickname, Johnny Football is very popular in College Station, Texas. Fans of the Aggies are clamoring for t-shirts that read Johnny Football. But, the freshman phenom is forbidden by NCAA rules from profiting. If Johnny Football were to set up a t-shirt company and start selling apparel, he would lose his scholarship, under NCAA regulations. But, if he were to allow others to make Johnny Football t-shirts, and fail to stop them, he could lose the trademark forever. This paradox was solved by forming a corporation, JMAN2 Enterprises. JMAN2 has registered the trademarks of “Johnny Football” and “Johnny Manziel”. JMAN2 has begun sending cease and desist letters to any entrepreneurs marketing his name or likeness, and even filing suit against those who do not. This is an awkward combination of policing others from using a mark, and yet not using it themselves. Johnny Football may inspire a roar of the crowd inside Kyle Field, but in the metaphorical marketplace, the name inspires a deafening silence. This is the awkward truce between the NCAA rules and trademark law. The NCAA does not...

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International Trademark Registration – Madrid Protocol

Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in Trademark

The Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, also known as the Madrid Protocol, is an international trademark treaty that allows for residents of any member country to file a single international trademark application. The treaty only covers trademark registration, however, and does not guarantee the trademark’s effectiveness across the variety of member states’ legal systems. The primary advantage of the Madrid Protocol is that an applicant can file a single form with one set of fees through a single office. As of November 2, 2003, the Madrid Protocol took effect in the United States. Under the Madrid Protocol, U.S. trademark owners can submit international applications to the International Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Foreign parties can also seek protection for their trademarks in the United States. Through the Madrid Protocol, a trademark holder can register their trademark in 84 member countries or contracting parties. To submit an application through the USPTO, a trademark holder must file an application or register a trademark with the Office and have a domicile or industrial or commercial establishment in the United States. The international application requires a basic or U.S. application, and both the mark itself and the owner must...

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