• IP BLAWG

    That’s the Way the Pocky Crumbles

    Beverly A. Berneman
    1/12/21

    Pocky is a cookie stick that comes in several flavors including chocolate or strawberry. The cookie was first produced in Japan in 1966. Pocky’s manufacturer, Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd. can boast of world-wide popularity for its cookie sticks.

    Lotte International America Co., decided to get into the cookie stick game. It came out with its own version called Pepero. There’s no question that the Pepero cookie stick is identical to the Pocky cookie stick.

    Ezaki Glico sued Lotte International for trade dress infringement in New Jersey district court. 

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  • IP BLAWG

    Get Me the One with the Pretty Colors

    Beverly A. Berneman
    9/15/20

    This blog recently discussed the inability to protect movement during a sightseeing tour as trade dress (“Emotionally Yours”, 6/2/2020). Other types of trade dress can also have problems.

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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

    The Shape of Things to Come

    Beverly A. Berneman
    3/19/19

    The shape of your next burger may be protected by a trademark registration.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Color Me Bright Green

    Beverly A. Berneman
    8/21/18

    Trade dress protects non-functional attributes of a product like color. %CUT% Moldex-Metric uses a bright green color for its foam earplugs. McKeon Products also uses bright green for foam earplugs. Moldex-Metric sued McKeon for infringement of unregistered trade dress, namely, the color of the earplugs. The trial court granted summary judgment for McKeon holding that the bright green color couldn’t be protected as trade dress because it served the function of making them easier to see during an inspection. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The court held that the trial court failed to consider whether other colors would be just as visible. So the case is remanded back to the trial court to allow a jury to decide if the green color was not functional because of available alternatives.

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  • IP BLAWG

    Spooky Trademark Spirits

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/9/17

    Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka gets to keep its dress. %CUT% Crystal Head Vodka’s maker, Globefull, Inc. brought a trade dress suit against Elements Spirits Inc. for copying its distinctive Day of the Dead inspired packaging on Element’s Kah Tequila. And then the 7 year odyssey began. Globefull lost the first jury trial. It appealed the denial of its motion for a new trial. The Ninth Circuit agreed that the trial was unfair because defense counsel had referenced similar litigation in Mexico in closing argument. Back in district court, Globefull lost its motion for preliminary injunction. But Globefull persevered. During the second trial, the owner of the elements was caught in a lie. At the previous trial, she testified she never heard of Crystal Head Vodka when she was developing Kah Tequila. In the second trial, the testimony of other witnesses contradicted that statement. The jury found in favor of Globefull on liability. The amount of damages will be set at a later date.

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  • IP BLAWG

    A Tale of Two Structures

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/24/16

    It looks pretty; but how protectable is it? %CUT% Two recent cases highlight how different types of IP law protect the structure of a product. In one case, In DeVinci Editrice S.r.l. v. Ziko Games LLC, a court held that the structure of the “Bang!” card game cannot be protected by copyright. While the plaintiff could copyright the artwork on the cards, the game structure, mechanics and rules are not protectable. Millennium Laboratories, Inc. v. Ameritox, Ltd., a court held that the structure of medical test reports can be protected as trade dress as long as the structure isn’t functional. In this case, the owner chose the structure because it didn’t look like any of its competitors’ reports.

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  • IP BLAWG

    All Dressed Up and Going Everywhere

    Beverly A. Berneman
    5/3/16

    Trade dress can help protect the look and feel of a website. %CUT% Many businesses put a lot of time and effort into their websites. With good reason. A website is the perfect place to show what the business can do and how it does it. But how can a business protect its well-designed website from being mimicked by a competitor? In Ingrid & Isabel, LLC v. Baby Be Mine, LLC, a California federal court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether the plaintiff’s website could be protected as trade dress. In doing so, the court acknowledged that the "look and feel" of a website qualifies for trade dress protection.

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