• IP BLAWG

    Book Your .Com Now

    Beverly A. Berneman
    7/7/20

    On June 30, 2020, the Supreme Court of the U.S. ended the long battle between Booking.com and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

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  • IP BLAWG

    Bad Spaniel Has First Amendment Rights

    Beverly A. Berneman
    6/30/20

    VIP Products LLP sells a series of dog toys called “Silly Squeakers”. The toys are often fashioned to look like well-known beverage containers. One of the toys is called “Bad Spaniels”. It looks like a Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle but with alterations. Of course, the name was changed from Jack Daniel’s to Bad Spaniels. But it didn’t stop there. Instead of “Old No. 7”, it said “Old No. 2 on your Tennessee Carpet” (which should resonate with dog owners). The alcohol description read 42% POO BY VOL” and “100% SMELLY” (again something instantly recognized by dog owners).

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  • IP BLAWG

    Lucky Shot

    Beverly A. Berneman
    6/23/20

    Alex Cruz was on his way to visit his girlfriend in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. He heard a commotion, took out his iPhone and took a snap shot. He thought he was just taking a photo of the police subduing a crazy person. What he really caught was a picture of law enforcement taking down a suspected terrorist. Alex shared the photo with a friend who then posted the photo on Instagram.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Sexing for Bovines

    Beverly A. Berneman
    6/16/20

    Sex predicting technology for bovines is an extremely lucrative business. The revenues are $200 million industry worldwide with about $50 million of that in the USA.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Your Joint or Mine?

    Beverly A. Berneman
    6/9/20

    The Hard Rock Café’s operating company, JC Hospitality LLC, tried to register the trademark “The Joint” for its casino based music venues. The USPTO refused registration. On appeal, the TTAB affirmed. Hard Rock then appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals who also affirmed the refusal.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Emotionally Yours

    Beverly A. Berneman
    6/2/20

    A motion trademark is generally considered a type of trademark called “trade dress”. Trade dress protects the visual appearance of a product. Some examples are: (1) the zoom-in view of a female statue at the beginning of every Columbia Pictures' movie (Reg. No. 1,975,999), (2) the "duck march" associated with PEABODY hotels (Reg. No. 2,710,415), and (3) the lighting effects that rotate around the microphone of Apple's SIRI personal assistant and knowledge navigator (Reg. No. 4,471,608).

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  • IP BLAWG

    Star Struck is Struck

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/26/20

    Kfir Moyal is a pop artist who has created commissioned pieces for celebrities like the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Gloria Estefan, Flo Rida and Lil’ Kim. His signature style is to take a photograph and add a glittery sheen to it.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Lucky Brand Gets Lucky

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/19/20

    For about 20 years, Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc. has been battling Marcel Fashions Group, Inc. over their trademarks. The US Supreme Court finally ended Lucky Brand’s struggle. At least for now.

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  • IP BLAWG

    States’ Rights: A Loss and a Win

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/12/20

    Two recent US Supreme Court cases give a loss for the State of Georgia and a win for the State of North Carolina.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Zazzle’s Defense Didn’t Dazzle the Court

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/5/20

    Zazzle, Inc. is an on-line marketplace for imprinted merchandise. Zazzle will then imprint the image on things like coffee mugs, t-shirts and, these days, face masks. Zazzle uses stock images but it also allows someone to upload their artwork or a graphic.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Reply All

    Beverly A. Berneman
    4/28/20

    If the words “reply all” sound familiar to you, then you probably use email to communicate with others for various and sundry reasons. Despite their widespread use, these two words became the subject of trademark litigation.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Dropping in Bankruptcy

    Beverly A. Berneman
    4/21/20

    Thru Inc. sued Dropbox for trademark infringement claiming to own the “DropBox” trademark. After a lot of litigation and some really good discovery, Dropbox was able to show that Thru may have had some bare rights to the “DropBox” mark but it never actually used the mark. Thru then sat back and watched as DropBox branded itself and became a household name for shareable file storage. Then Thru continued to drag its heels in litigation to cash in on DropBox’s initial public offering in 2018. DropBox discovered emails from Thru’s CEO which unabashedly chronicled Thru’s strategy. In the end, DropBox obtained a $2.3 million judgment that included attorney’s fees and costs.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Public Exposure

    Beverly A. Berneman
    4/14/20

    For your stay at home pleasure, 2020 has granted us with a whole inventory of content that is now in the public domain.

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  • Benefits Bulletin

    What Health Plan Fiduciaries Need to Worry About

    Andrew S. Williams
    2/25/20

    Much has been written about excess fee claims involving 401(k) and 403(b) retirement plans. In fact, a St. Louis law firm has specialized in filing class action excess fee cases around the country. So, the personal risk to retirement plan fiduciaries has been well documented.

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  • IP BLAWG

    USPTO Has to Go Dutch

    Beverly A. Berneman
    2/25/20

    In the U.S., each side usually pays their own attorney’s fees. This is called the American Rule. Until about six years ago, that rule applied to appeals from USPTO decisions. So, if an applicant appealed the USPTO’s decision not to issue a patent or register a trademark, the applicant paid the applicant’s attorney’s fees and the USPTO paid its staff attorneys their salaries. Then about 6 years ago, the USPTO decided anyone who appealed an adverse ruling should have to pay the USPTO’s attorneys’ fees as well as their own.

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  • IP BLAWG

    The Cyber Insurance Flip Side

    Beverly A. Berneman
    2/18/20

    We’ve covered denial of insurance coverage for trade secret misappropriation and affirming insurance coverage for copyright infringement. Now we turn our attention to the newer kid on the insurance block, cyber insurance.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Insurance Flip Side

    Beverly A. Berneman
    2/11/20

    Last week’s blog covered a situation where an insurance company wasn’t required to cover the costs of defending a misappropriation of trade secrets case. This week’s blog covers a situation where the insurance company was required to cover the cost of defense of an Intellectual Property dispute.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Taking Candy from a Candy Company

    Beverly A. Berneman
    2/4/20

    If you like Sour Jacks and/or Welch’s Fruit Snacks, a lot goes on behind the scenes for your sugar pleasure. Promotion In Motion, Inc. or PIM holds the formulas and manufacturing process for the sugary snacks as trade secrets. PIM also owns the design of the packaging. Ferrara Pan Candy Co. manufactured and sold the sugar bombs for PIM from 1990 to 2014 pursuant to a confidentiality agreement and license.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Zero is Worth More Than Zero

    Beverly A. Berneman
    1/28/20

    Back in November 2016, this blog covered the case of the trademark, ADD A ZERO, for wearing apparel. The trademark is owned by Christian Faith Fellowship Church (“CFFC”). Adidas, the international sportswear powerhouse, sought to cancel CFFC’s trademark for various reasons. Adidas took on the cause because the USPTO refused registration of Adidas’s trademark, ADIZERO, due to a likelihood of confusion. Adidas argued that CFFC wasn’t using the trademark in commerce because CFFC only sold two items. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held that there is no ‘de minimis’ sale rule and so two sales were enough.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Ignorance Is a Catch-22

    Beverly A. Berneman
    1/14/20

    Some companies have an “ignorance is bliss” policy when it comes to reading patents. The belief is that if you don’t read it, you can’t be accused of knowing about it. And if you don’t know about it, you can’t be accused of willfully infringing on the patent. Willful patent infringement can increase or enhance the damages recoverable by a plaintiff. So a lack of willfulness can change the value proposition of prosecuting or defending an infringement suit. But is an ignorance policy a good idea?

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  • Benefits Bulletin

    ERISA 2019 Hall of Shame

    Andrew S. Williams
    1/14/20

    Doctor X’s various schemes to deprive employees of their plan benefits reduced their lump sum payments by almost one-half! This could leave a lot more money for Doctor X – who also was a participant in the plan.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Fake Influencer Followers Means Real Consequences

    Beverly A. Berneman
    1/8/20

    Influencers are individuals who have authority, knowledge, a position or a relationship that gives them the power to affect purchase decisions of others. Given the relationship between the number of an influencer’s followers and the influencer’s value, it’s no surprise that an enterprising entrepreneur could help influencers increase the number of their followers.

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  • Benefits Bulletin

    IRS Announces Painless Retirement Plan Fix

    Andrew S. Williams
    12/18/19

    What can you do if your retirement plan operations don’t square with the provisions of your plan document?

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  • IP BLAWG

    Happy Holidays™ or ®?

    Beverly A. Berneman
    12/17/19

    As the holiday season ramps up, a question arises. Can someone own a holiday trademark? Many have tried with various levels of success. The successful registrations don’t try to corner the market on holiday greetings. Here are some examples.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Do Not Pass Go and Do Not Collect License Fees

    Beverly A. Berneman
    12/10/19

    Qualcomm is a leader in the market of wireless chip connectivity that every cell phone needs. Qualcomm holds patents related to 3G, 4G and 5G networking technology as well as other software. Qualcomm demanded a license fee for every device that connects to a cellular network. In other words, all cell phones. It forced its customers, like Apple, to enter into patent license agreements for Qualcomm’s technology; even if the customer was using a chip manufactured by someone else, like Intel.

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