In a recently released ruling, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) dismissed PYRAT RUM’s opposition to registration of PIRATE PISS for beer, ale and lager. Patrón Spirits International AG v. Conyngham Brewing Company, Opposition No. 91226939 (June 8, 2018). The Board, in an opinion authored by Administrative Trademark Judge Thomas W. Wellington, held that PIRATE PISS for beer is not likely to be confused with the already-registered mark PYRAT for rum. By rejecting PYRAT RUM’s challenge, the Board is allowing Conyngham Brewing Company’s application for registration to proceed.
“Adjudication:” a proceeding which leads to a judicial decision
On November 27, 2017, the Supreme Court heard arguments concerning a challenge to the most frequent form of patent challenges before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), known as inter partes review (“IPR”). The USPTO is a federal agency empowered by Congress to grant patents and perform other functions related to patents. Its other functions include the authority to review previously granted patents and determine whether they were, in fact, validly granted.
In some cases, the need for review may occur because material not found by the patent examiner would have prevented the patent from being granted in the first place. With all the millions of patents, published applications and journal articles in this country and worldwide, as well as other written publications, industry standards and activities that could affect the right to a patent, there is no system of patent searching guaranteed to uncover every relevant item. Thus, for several decades, Congress has authorized Continue reading Is Inter Partes Review Unconstitutional?→
Having been sworn in as the Forty-Fifth president of the United States, Donald Trump will now appoint individuals who will leave their fingerprints on the intellectual property landscape. Although it might not happen overnight, at some point in 2017 the President is expected to appoint a Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and a new Supreme Court justice to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia. These are at least two of the significant appointments by President Trump related to intellectual property.
The USPTO Director sets the tone for hiring and promoting administrative judges, examiners, and supervisors – individuals who, collectively, exercise great power with respect to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Also, the Director serves as the principal advisor to the President on domestic and international intellectual property policy matters.
Undoubtedly, the criteria for USPTO Director candidates will revolve around jobs. The President has expressed the need for strengthening U.S. patents worldwide and preventing misappropriation of intellectual property as substantial factors in protecting jobs in this country. Candidates who do not go to sleep at night thinking about Continue reading The Impact of President Trump’s IP-Related Appointments→
Few college football coaches can claim both a legendary record and a unique choice of headwear in the way the late University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant can. The question circulating the legal community of late, however, revolves around the extent to which the University can assert that uniqueness in the form of trademark protection for the houndstooth design emblazoned on Bryant’s signature fedora hat, as well as the right of an administrative court not to conform to the ruling of a District Court.
The case of the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and Paul W. Bryant, Jr. v. Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises, LLC, et al. is currently working its way through the federal courts. Before filing suit, the University and Bryant had opposed the Houndstooth Mafia’s trademark registration, which included a logo with a plentiful amount of houndstooth. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”), however, found that the Continue reading The University of Alabama Throws a Penalty Flag on the Use of Houndstooth Logo→
The so-called “SEC Primaries” on March 1, 2016 could have as much to do with deciding the Republican presidential nominee as the Southeastern Conference does with college football’s national championship. With that in mind, candidate Jeb Bush has toured the SEC this fall, and while he is undoubtedly watching great football, he is also pursuing votes.
As Bush canvasses the crowds across southern tailgates, which have included the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee campuses, staffers have passed out koozies emblazoned with the letters “J-E-B,” in a circular logo similar to that of the SEC. That is until recently, when SEC officials called the logo into question.
If you use a slogan or a logo that identifies your company to your customers, you should protect your rights to that slogan or logo. If you don’t have the thousands of dollars that a federal trademark registration might require, the Tennessee Trademark Act (TTMA) might provide you with the protection you need at a cost you can afford.
Registering your slogan or logo under the TTMA, which only applies to marks that are in actual use in your business, likely will give you the remedies you may need against infringements in Tennessee, such as injunctive relief, infringer’s profits, and attorney’s fees if the infringement is knowing or occurs in bad faith. Registration also gives you the ability to prove your ownership and use of the mark to any other entity in Tennessee.
It may not seem intuitive to connect intellectual property rights with a human tragedy, but indeed, the two intersect more often than we realize. This is likely not the proper forum to opine on the propriety of such an intersection, or the motives of those who mine its connections, but it is a topic ripe for discussion because it is so common in today’s world.
In the wake of the Paris Charlie Hebdo massacre on January 7, 2015, people from around the world began showing their solidarity with the victims under the hashtag “#jesuischarlie.” “Je Suis Charlie!” also became a rallying cry for the multiple demonstrations that followed the attack. Forty-eight hours later, someone in the U.S. filed a trademark application for “Je Suis Charlie.” You can check out the filing for yourself.
On its face, the filing appears legitimate — the applicant, the Je Suis Charlie Trust, is seeking to trademark the phrase for “[p]romoting charitable giving that reflects the core values of the donor by providing a method to identify the donor’s core values and to select charities that foster those values.” The application claims the first use of the mark in commerce was “at least as early” as the day of the attacks, though it is unclear how Continue reading Commentary: Trademarking Tragedy→
I recently wrote an analysis of the Washington Redskins trademark case that was published in the Nashville Post. The article, “Analysis: The Washington Redskins trademark case – landmark decision or momentary legal fracas?” examines the controversial case, and explains the legal process and implications of the ruling.