Tag archives: Trademark

Fore! An Interesting Copyright and Trademark Default Judgment

On March 15, 2019, a federal trial court judge ruled in favor of famous golfer Jack Nicklaus’ company in a case that may be of interest to copyright and trademark owners. (Nicklaus Cos. LLC. v. Bryan Hepler Golf LLC, No. CV-18-01748-PHX-ROS (D. Ariz. March 15, 2019) (2019 WL 1227198).)

The case began in a way that is probably all too familiar with copyright owners: photos and videos owned by the plaintiff began appearing without permission the defendant’s website and were posted by the defendant on social media sites. The plaintiff sent a demand letter to the defendant, but … Continue Reading

#trademarked?

In August of 2018, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), which decides cases certain trademark cases, refused rapper will.i.am’s attempt to register a hashtag as a trademark. Specifically, i.am.symbolic,llc (will.i.am’s company), attempted to register #WILLPOWER for a variety of apparel goods. The Trademark Examining Attorney refused his application because WILLPOWER WEAR  was already registered for “Hats; Jackets; Pants; Shirts; Shoes,” and i.am.symbolic appealed the decision to the TTAB.… Continue Reading

Grumpy Cat back in court

We previously reported on Grumpy Cat Limited’s big win in a copyright and trademark suit. As a recap, Grumpy Cat—the social-media-famous grimacing feline, or rather the holding company owned by her “parents”—filed a lawsuit after the defendants went beyond the scope of a licensing agreement to market a variety of Grumpy Cat-themed coffee products. According to the suit, the contract was only intended to cover bottled iced-coffee beverages called Grumpuccinos.

Though judgment was entered, the tale is not over yet. Grumpy Cat Limited recently asked the court to award it over $320,000 in costs and attorneys’ fees from the defendants, … Continue Reading

Trademarks, social media and lessons learned

On June 14, 2018, a federal trial court in New York issued a decision relating to a restaurant owner’s claim that the restaurant manager was using the owner’s trademarks on social media in violation of the federal trademark law known as the Lanham Act. The trial court denied the owner’s claim, in a ruling that provides some useful lessons to anyone who licenses a trademark. (Thousand Island Park Corp. v. Welser, 5:18-CV-117 (N.D.N.Y. June 14, 2018 (2018 WL 29803231)).)… Continue Reading

Grumpy Cat Almost Smiling Over Big Award

 

Grumpy Cat has a new reason to turn that frown upside-down. Though the cat is known for her sneer, she is (or rather, Grumpy Cat Limited and its/her owners are) sitting pretty on a recent jury award in California of over $700,000 for trademark and copyright infringement and breach of contract. (Grumpy Cat Ltd. v. Grenade Beverage LLC, Civ. No. 8:15-cv-02063 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2018) (jury verdict)).… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Reverses Social Media Gag Order

Currently, in the midst of a jury trial in U.S. federal court, the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) has had a bumpy ride in its trademark suit in the Southern District of California against Dan Farr Productions and its co-founders for their use of the name Salt Lake Comic Con. On October 26, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s “gag order,” which essentially prevented the defendants from posting about the case on any social media platform.… Continue Reading

Court Looks to Social Media for Evidence of Trademark Infringement

In April 2017, based on some key social media evidence, the Central District Court of California decided UL LLC v. Space Chariot Inc., 2017 WL 1423706 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 20, 2017).  The court held on summary judgment that Space Chariot had infringed and counterfeited UL’s trademark, and awarded one million dollars in statutory damages.  UL, a holder of various safety certification marks, complained that Space Chariot, a manufacturer of “hoverboard” toys, had violated UL’s trademark rights by displaying UL’s safety certification marks on its hoverboards without permission.  The court summarized the issues: “The gravamen of UL’s complaint is that … Continue Reading

Personal Brands, Social Media, and the Lanham Act

On July 14, 2017, a federal trial court ruled on an interesting issue: could models and actresses, whose popularity on social media was a strong factor in determining their earning capacities, maintain a lawsuit under the Lanham Act against a “swingers club” that used their photos without consent?  In a case where social media played a prominent evidentiary role, the court permitted the models’ claim to proceed, and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  (Lancaster v. The Bottle Club, LLC, Civ. No. 8:19-cv-634-T-33JSS (M.D. Fla. July 14, 2017) (2017 WL 3008434).… Continue Reading

That’s My Mark! Enforcing Trademark Rights on Social Media

It is no doubt surprising and frustrating for brand owners when they find that someone has appropriated their trademarks on social media. A few of the common scenarios include:

  • small competitors modifying logos and passing them off as their own;
  • unauthorized distributors using logos and trademarks on their social media advertising; and
  • social media users registering account names that incorporate trademarks.

Pursuing the usual enforcement techniques can be difficult on social media, particularly when the identity of the infringer is unclear or unknown. The good news for brand owners is that most social media websites prohibit the infringement of another’s … Continue Reading

Germany: Can you be sued for tweeting #Rio2016?

The answer depends on who you are: For consumers there is little risk involved. Companies, however, did receive letters by the German Olympic Committee in recent weeks warning them about stealing intellectual property, similar to the letters send by the United States Olympic Committee. In particular Twitter accounts should not reference any Olympic results, share or re-tweet anything from the official Olympic account, or use official hashtags including #Rio2016 or #Team.… Continue Reading

Social media risks during the Rio Games

In just four days, the world’s attention will turn to Rio de Janeiro and the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.  At the same time, sports enthusiasts will turn to social media to express their support for the Games, for their countries’ teams and for their favorite athletes.

Individuals, news outlets, and official Olympic sponsors are generally free to post and tweet about the games and athletes during the roughly month-long blackout period which began last week and ends on August 24.  However, non-sponsor brand owners in the United States could face potential legal action if they are not careful.… Continue Reading

Can You Trademark a Hashtag?

#Yes! In the United States, a hashtag can be trademarked if it serves a source-identifying function for the trademark owner’s goods or services.

Hashtags, which started on Twitter as a way for users to follow conversations on particular topics, are words or phrases that follow the pound or hash sign (“#”). Since their inception, hashtags have become a popular way for Internet users to indicate that a post or other piece of content is related to a specific thing – a specific issue, a topic in the news, an event, or even a company or product.… Continue Reading

Authentication on social media platforms

Engaging with customers online is quickly becoming the norm as consumers increasingly use social media to ask questions, seek customer service, and participate in dialogue with a business or their brand. The use of social media to deliver customer service allows businesses to be at the forefront of our digital age. That said, businesses could be doing more to protect their brands, credibility and accountability over their various social media accounts. Namely, in building or maintaining trust with customers over online communications, businesses must find ways to help customers know they are engaging with the business’ legitimate social media account.… Continue Reading

Social Media & IP Enforceability

Social media channels represent an exciting medium to reach out to the public and potential collaborators. Social media can also play an important role in helping generate positive buzz for organizations seeking to develop a market for their products or services.  For example, many of today’s companies gauge the depth of market interest in their products not through traditional advertising or focus groups, but rather through leveraging social media, such as communication platforms (e.g., Twitter, WeChat, Facebook), and content sharing platforms (e.g., YouTube, Vine), and crowd-funding platforms (e.g., Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe).  Some companies are also using open, collaborative approaches to … Continue Reading

Google – Hanginout in court

In November 2013, Hanginout, Inc. (“Hanginout”) filed a lawsuit against Google Inc. (“Google”) alleging, among other things, that Google had infringed on Hanginout’s HANGINOUT mark.

Hanginout, a Virginia based social media company, uses its HANGINOUT mark for its interactive video response platform, which enables its users to create, promote, and sell their own brands by engaging directly with potential customers via pre-recorded video messages and/or video profiles. Google alleged that by 2009, it had already developed its internal version of what would become its HANGOUTS product. Google made its HANGOUTS product accessible to the public as part of its Google+ … Continue Reading

Update – CANDY Mark Dispute

We have written previously about the trademark dispute in the US between King.com Limited and Runsome Apps Inc., the creators of the mobile/social media/web games “Candy Crush Saga” and “CandySwipe,” respectively. It appears that the year-long battle between the two developers has ended.

On April 16, 2014, Albert Ransom posted this statement on the Candyswipe.com website:

“I am happy to announce that I have amicably resolved my dispute with King over my CandySwipe trademark and that I am withdrawing my opposition to their mark and they are withdrawing their counterclaim against mine. I have learned that they picked the CANDY

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Mobile/ Facebook game developers face off in CANDY mark dispute

Our readers are probably familiar with a game that can be played on Facebook or on a mobile device known as CANDY CRUSH SAGA.  Also available on Facebook and on mobile devices is another game called CANDYSWIPE.  This posting summarizes the trademark application dispute between the two companies, one of which has leveraged the power of social media for support.

Earlier this year, an open letter to King.com Limited, the developer of Candy Crush Saga, went viral, informing all who would read the letter by Albert Ransom, president of independent game developing studio Runsome Apps, which was written at the … Continue Reading

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