• IP BLAWG

    Eyelash Booster Trademarks Get a Wink and a Nod

    Beverly A. Berneman
    8/9/22

    In Brief:  Competing eyelash booster trademarks don’t create a likelihood of confusion.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Brewsky v. Brewsky

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/24/22

    In Brief:  David’s beer brand wins over Goliath’s beer brand.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Fifty Shades of Gray Market Goods

    Beverly A. Berneman
    1/18/22

    In Brief:  The First Sale Doctrine doesn’t always apply to gray market goods.

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  • IP BLAWG

    If at First You Don’t Succeed

    Beverly A. Berneman
    12/21/21

    In Brief:  Decisions by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board don’t always have a preclusive effect on further litigation.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Pizza Wars Part II: New York Style

    Beverly A. Berneman
    10/19/21

    In Brief: Trademarks that co-exist for a long time don’t always create a likelihood of confusion.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Nerdy High

    Beverly A. Berneman
    8/24/21

    In Brief:  Cannabis edibles cannot use a variation of non-cannabis trademark for candy.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Putting Confusion to Bed

    Beverly A. Berneman
    7/20/21

    In Brief: Initial interest confusion is still alive (sort of) despite a lot of criticism.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Just in Time for Summer BBQ

    Beverly A. Berneman
    6/8/21 1

    In Brief:   Metchup survives a trademark challenge, but barely.

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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

    Welcome to My Star Battles Party

    Beverly A. Berneman
    11/6/18

    Captain America, Thor and Iron Man can’t save your party guests without a license. %CUT% Characters for Hire, LLC (“CFH”) advertises premium entertainment for parties and private events by booking actors dressed like popular characters. CFH offers hero characters and famous characters from popular scifi/fantasy movies. Understanding that Disney, Marvel and LucasFilm own the rights to characters that fall into those categories, CFH used generic names like "Big Green Guy" (Hulk) and “The Dark Lord” (Darth Vader). Similarly, CFH advertised themed parties that referenced Plaintiffs’ movies, such as “Frozen Themed” (Frozen), “Avenging Team” (The Avengers), and “Star Battles” (Star Wars). But CFH used the original images of the characters in its ads (see picture). After CFH ignored several cease and desist letters, Disney, Marvel and LucasFilm sued. The court entered summary judgment against the plaintiffs on trademark infringement. The court appeared to put a lot of weight on the fact that the plaintiffs couldn’t show actual confusion and there was enough notice that CFH was not affiliated with the plaintiffs. But the court will proceed on the other counts of unfair competition, dilution and copyright infringement. So CFH can’t breathe a sigh of relief yet.

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  • IP BLAWG

    If You See Something

    Beverly A. Berneman
    8/28/18

    Don’t wait too long to protect your trademark. %CUT% Since the 1990s, Cosmetic Warriors Ltd. sells “Lush” brand personal products like soap, lotions and makeup. For a brief period, Cosmetic Warriors sold a small number of t-shirts. But for the most part, Cosmetic Warriors does not sell clothing. Pinkette Clothing, Inc. started selling clothing using the brand name “Lush” in 2003. In 2009, Pinkette applied to register the trademark and it was registered in 2010. Cosmetic Warriors didn’t contest the registration. Almost 5 years after the registration of Pinkette’s trademark, Cosmetic Warriors sued Pinkette for trademark infringement. Cosmetic Warriors said that it didn’t know about the registration to explain why it waited so long to bring suit. Cosmetic Warriors won the battle but not the war. A jury sided with Cosmetic Warriors on the infringement issue. But then the jury sided with Pinkette on Pinkette’s argument that Cosmetic Warriors was barred by laches because it waited too long to bring suit. The jury’s verdict was upheld on appeal.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Hey Mickey!

    Beverly A. Berneman
    6/26/18

    A press release doesn’t always amount to trademark use. %CUT% In the 1980s, Toni Basil had a one hit wonder “Mickey” that included the lyrics, “You’re so fine you blow my mind, Hey Mickey”. She sold the copyright to the recording of the song. When Disney Co., Kohl’s and Forever 21 started using the song in their advertising, they issued press releases and mentioned Toni’s name in connection with the song. Toni sued for various types of Intellectual Property infringement including trademark infringement based on the press releases. Toni argued that the use of her name violated trademark law based on false designation of origin. The judge disagreed and dismissed the trademark claim holding that the use of her name in the press releases as nominative fair use.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Trademark Goes Down for the Count

    Beverly A. Berneman
    11/7/17

    A licensee can’t knock out a confusingly similar trademark. %CUT% Julie A. Moreno licensed the Mexican trademark, DEPORTES CASANOVA, for sports equipment. Julie challenged Pro Boxing Supplies, Inc.’s trademark applications and registrations for CASANOVA due to a likelihood of confusion. The TTAB denied Julie’s petitions. While this looked like a priority of use problem, the real problem was that a licensee and not the owner/licensor was claiming priority of use. The TTAB ruled against Julie because: “Allowing a licensee to claim priority for itself in an inter parties proceeding based on the licensor’s use of the mark (whether through the license or otherwise), could result in a licensee being able to claim de facto ownership of the licensed mark.”

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  • IP BLAWG

    The Perils of the Merely Descriptive Trademark

    Beverly A. Berneman
    10/19/16

    If you use a phrase to describe your product, it probably isn’t a trademark. %CUT% Simone Kelly-Brown registered the phrase “Own Your Power” in a special form (see the first picture). When Oprah Winfrey’s “O” Magazine used the same phrase on its cover (second picture), Kelly-Brown sued for trademark infringement. The case took a tortured path up and down from trial court to appellate court to trial court and back to appellate court. In the end, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for Oprah and her publisher. The Court held that Kelly-Brown’s use of the phrase was merely descriptive of her products and services. Oprah demonstrated that the phrase had been in use since at least 1981. Oprah, herself, used the phrase in a 1993 commencement address which predated Kelly-Brown’s use of the phrase. Kelly-Brown tried to argue that the mark had acquired secondary meaning because the consuming public had come to identify the mark with her goods and services. But, the trial court held that Kelly-Brown didn’t have enough proof to support her position.

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