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Washington Redskins’ Federal Trademark Cancelled by USPTO 0

Washington Redskins’ Federal Trademark Cancelled by USPTO

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Blog

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has cancelled the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins, stating that the name of the team is “disparaging to Native Americans.” This was the second time that the case was filed against the Washington Redskins on behalf of 5 Native Americans. This decision affects 6 trademarks, which contain the word “Redskin.” The decisions comes based on the law which does not allow trademarks to be registered if the trademark “may disparage” groups or individuals and “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The decision by the USPTO does not necessarily mean that the Redskins will need to re-brand themselves with a new team name or logo, but it will certainly affect how it can control and produce merchandise. Since the NFL will no longer be protected by the same laws as if they had a registered trademark, it will certainly affect how they can bring suits against people who use their logos and names without proper authorization from the NFL. Attorneys for both sides have spoken, and the attorney representing the team stated that “this ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.” The attorney for the team is confident...

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Trademark Protection: The FIFA World Cup 0

Trademark Protection: The FIFA World Cup

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Blog

The FIFA World Cup is starting today and while many fans are eager to watch the first match between Brazil and Croatia, behind the scenes is an entanglement of intellectual property issues. The Federation Internationale of Football Association (FIFA) released a manual, entitled the “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil – FIFA Public Guidelines for Use of FIFA’s Official Marks”, on how businesses and individuals should deal with any IP related issues. The manual is 27 pages long and includes a section dedicated to the official marks of FIFA, examples of how to use the marks, and other general information. In the manual, FIFFA states that any “unauthorized use of the Official Marks not only undermines the integrity of the FIFA World Cup and its marketing program, but also puts the interests of the worldwide football community at stake.” The manual lists the official marks, official emblem, official mascot, official slogan, official look element, the FIFA World Cup trophy, official poster, official fan fest logo, a list of protected terms and a variety of other words and marks that FIFA is aiming to protect. Of the protected terms, FIFA includes, World Cup, Brazil 2014, Soccer World Cup and more. By releasing this manual and instructions on use, FIFA is making...

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Dumb Starbucks: A Parody or Not? 0

Dumb Starbucks: A Parody or Not?

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Copyright

Earlier this month a new coffee shop opened in Los Angeles called Dumb Starbucks.  The outer appearance of the shop is an exact replica of a Starbucks coffee shop except the word “Dumb” appears in front of Starbucks.  Inside, everything is also an exact replica of a Starbucks with the word “dumb” inserted in front.  The cups have the Dumb Starbucks logo and the menu items are dumb as well.  Canadian comic Nathan Felder is the owner of the shop and announced plans to open a second location in New York.  Naturally, Starbucks is not amused and has pledged to protect its trademark. They have stated that they are “evaluating next steps” and have made it clear that “they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark.” Dumb Starbucks has potentially infringed multiple forms of trademark protection.  Starbucks is a protected word mark and using Dumb Starbucks in commerce can confuse consumers or dilute the Starbucks brand.  Similarly, the logo for Starbucks is also protected but Dumb Starbucks copied it and inserted the word “dumb.”  Since Dumb Starbucks also copied the colors of a Starbucks shop it may have infringed upon trade dress protection, the outside appearance of the coffee shops which help consumers identify they are Starbucks....

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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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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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