Inherently Distinctive

News & Analysis as of

Have Sense About Scents

In today's marketplace, companies are constantly seeking their moment, day, or --if they are lucky--year on the top of the "best of" list for new, unique, and/or fabulously redesigned goods or services. The sheer number of...more

The Distinctiveness Threshold for Stylization of Descriptive Marks

In a recent TTAB case, the Board considered whether a stylization of a descriptive term supports registration on the Principal Register. The short answer? It depends....more

Mark It to MarketTM - July 2016

The July 2016 issue of Sterne Kessler's Mark It to MarketTM newsletter discusses an upcoming SCOTUS design patent case, In One Nation Enterprises and stylization of a descriptive term, and currently open gTLD Sunrise...more

MACCOFFEE Found Likely To Ride Coat-Tails Of McDonald’s EU ‘Mc’ Family Of Trademarks

On July 5, 2016, the European General Court rendered an interesting decision illustrating the broad protection enjoyed by those trademarks with “a reputation in the EU.”...more

Don’t Copy “Bounty” Bars: Distributors of Chocolate Bars Prohibited from Imitating “Bounty Bar Shape”

Mars saw a violation of its three-dimensional “Bounty” trademark and filed a lawsuit against the distributor of the “Wish” chocolate bar....more

Can You Identify Your Trade Dress?

Trade dress is a type of trademark intellectual property right that can protect almost any unique identifying aesthetic design used by a company, from the shape of a product, to the appearance of a website, to the decor of a...more

Famous Empire State Building Trademark At The Heart Of An Opposition Case

The Empire State Building has been in the heart of New York City since 1931 and was recently at the heart of a beer logo in a case heard before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). In the recent case of ESRT...more

DICKMAN’S Pickles: Just Another Unregistrable Surname

The US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has, again, explained how and when surnames may function as trademarks. In re Enumclaw Farms LLC, Application Serial No. 85942195 (TTAB June 24, 2016). ...more

Trademark Review | June 2016

Coca-Cola has Acquired Secondary Meaning in ZERO for Colas - In an opposition proceeding before the TTAB, Royal Crown (RC) and Dr. Pepper/Seven Up sought to prevent registration of seventeen applications filed by...more

Trademark Review | May 2016

Surname Not Registrable Absent Substantially Exclusive Use - As a result of various third-party uses of the surname “Ayoub” for similar services, Applicant’s use of AYOUB did not meet the requirement of Section (f) that...more

Trademark Review | April 2016

Broad JAWS Registration Devours JAWS Cooking Channel - Mr. Recipe’s applications to register the marks JAWS and JAWS DEVOUR YOUR HUNGER were refused based on the earlier registration for JAWS, the movie. Mr. Recipe’s...more

No Room at the USPTO: TTAB Rejects Booking.com Trademarks As Generic

Many online businesses prefer to use domain names that communicate as clearly and concisely as possible the types of goods and services offered on their websites. That may be good marketing strategy. But as a recent decision...more

Drilling Down: Court Invalidates Design Patent on Wellbore Centralizer Due to Lack of Ornamentality

In an unusual patent claim construction order on March 2nd, a federal district court held a design patent invalid for functionality. This is a relatively rare outcome because claim construction in design patent cases is often...more

On Protecting “My Pillow” as Your Trademark: They Say, When You Make Your Bed, You Might Just End Up Sleeping in It

We had some great questions from the audience during the Mastering U.S. Trademark Registration Practice seminar in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. During the session on genericness, someone asked about MyPillow, expressing...more

The Coca-Cola Bottle In Europe: No Fluting, No Distinctiveness

Three-dimensional trademarks have given rise to some interesting European Community decisions in the last several months (see, for example, our comments on the Kit Kat and Lego decisions). A decision rendered last week by the...more

Acquired Distinctiveness of Trademarks in the United States

Business enterprises often prefer to adopt trademarks that describe the company’s goods or services because they require less of an investment to develop the brand and educate the target consumer. This is in contrast to...more

Date Me, Snog Me But Don’t Meet Me in the European Trademark Office

“Be creative!” is an important piece of advice which you often hear from European trademark lawyers. Today, more than ever, this recommendation should be taken seriously. The reason is very simple: the Community trademark...more

No Break In Fight Over Kit Kat Three-Dimensional Trademark

The story begins in the UK in 1935, when a worker at Rowntree’s York factory put an idea in the suggestion box for a snack that “a man could take to work in his pack.” This idea ?led to the famous four-finger Kit Kat...more

Airline Brand Strategery: It’s Transfarency

Earlier this month Southwest Airlines launched a brand new ad campaign called “Transfarency,” which is said to highlight the airline’s “low-fare credo and its lack of bag fees, change fees or hidden fees for passengers.”...more

What Does It Take to Trademark Your Name? - Tartell, M.D. v. South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center, Inc., et al.

Addressing the question of when a professional name can be protected as a trademark, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that the plaintiff doctor’s name had not acquired that distinction. Tartell, M.D....more

European Community Trademark registration for patterns and three-dimensional marks requires Acquired Distinctiveness in Each...

Owners of pattern and three-dimensional marks should take note of the substantial burden of proving acquired distinctiveness of their marks through use throughout the European Union. On April 21, 2015, Louis Vuitton’s...more

Louisiana Fish Fry Ltd. Couldn’t Jump Out of Frying Pan

As I was looking at a photo of the fish my nephew caught this weekend, I wondered if my brother and my sister-in-law would be inviting me to a fish fry. Indeed, a fish fry was on my mind after having just read the...more

Protection of Identities Not Identical Under Lanham Act §§ 43(a) and 2(a)

In Tartell v. South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s finding that the plaintiff’s personal name had acquired distinctiveness as a trademark and that the defendant...more

Purple-Colored Fabric Tags Attached to Remote Control Found Inherently Distinctive

News flash, last Friday the USPTO approved for publication a non-traditional trademark that I’ve seen in real life before. Let’s just say it is attached to one of our many remote control devices that I’ve had to dig out from...more

Australia: High Court Decision - Registrability of foreign language trade marks

Today [3 December 2014] the High Court handed down a decision in Cantarella Bros Pty Limited v Modena Trading Pty Limited, clarifying the test for inherent distinctiveness of trade marks, and giving clarity to the treatment...more

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