Lanham Act

News & Analysis as of

Automotive Law Group News: Appellate Court Win for Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association

Murtha Cullina's automotive industry team achieved a victory on behalf of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association on March 17, 2016 when the Massachusetts Appeals Court voted unanimously to affirm the dismissal...more

Of Slants, Skins And Signs: The March To The Supreme Court

This week saw developments in the two cases challenging the application of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act to their registration: In re Tam and Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc....more

Washington Redskins’ Hail Mary Pass: Petition SCOTUS to Sack USPTO

INITIAL CALL ON THE FIELD - In June 2014, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) stripped the Washington Redskins (Washington) of their federal trademarks, finding the term “Redskins” was disparaging under Section...more

The Slants and the Future of Disparaging Trademarks

Trademark and copyright law are in a constant struggle with the right of free expression guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This is unavoidable. Copyright laws were enacted to protect authors of...more

Pro Football Calls SCOTUS Audible

As we noted here last week, the Director of the USPTO filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it review the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision, In re Tam. That decision held Section...more

The Right of Publicity: How Much Control Do NFL Players Have Over Their Names?

How much control should athletes have over their names? Not an unlimited amount, according to one recent court ruling. Late last month, in Dryer v. National Football League, the Eighth Circuit denied an appeal by three...more

In re Tam Redux: The PTO seeks Certiorari

On April 20, 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Federal Circuit seeking Supreme Court review of that Court’s decision in In re Tam, 117 USPQ2d 1001...more

Ninth Circuit Decision Finds Side-By-Side Medical Results Charts Arguably Non-Functional and Protectable Trade Dress

The Ninth Circuit recently considered whether the layout of a medical report can be protected as trade dress under the Lanham Act, or whether the layout of a report is merely functional. The subject case, Millennium...more

California Court Gives Two Thumbs Down and Voids Non-Compete in Actor’s Agreement

Seyfarth Synopsis: Limitation on an actor’s ability to work in certain films struck down as an unlawful restraint of trade. California, mecca of the film and media production industries in the U.S., is notorious for...more

USPTO to SCOTUS: SOS on the Lanham Act ASAP

On April 20, 2016, the USPTO made it official: It formally requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review the en banc Federal Circuit decision that held Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violated the First Amendment. At issue...more

Who Should Own a Trademark Registration? The Case of the Not-So-Related Parent Company

A recent precedential Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision provides valuable guidance on the proper allocation of trademark registration ownership as between a corporate parent and a subsidiary, highlighting the perils...more

When Is Natural Unnatural? When It’s Not: The Federal Trade Commission Takes Exception to “All Natural” Claims

In the 1975 song, “Natural Mystic,” legend Bob Marley sang “There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air – I won’t tell no lie.” Channeling Marley, the Federal Trade Commission recently took enforcement action against...more

Federal Circuit Holds Trademark Infringement Must Be Willful to Warrant Award of Infringer’s Profits, Highlighting Continuing...

The Federal Circuit, applying Second Circuit trademark law, has weighed in on the issue of whether an infringer’s profits are recoverable absent a finding of willful infringement. In Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc....more

FLANAX: Protecting Foreign Marks from US Unfair Competition Under Section 43(a)

In today’s increasingly global economy, trademark owners are more frequently butting up against the territorial limitations of trademark law. It has long been a matter of black letter law that trademark rights are...more

Supreme Court Battle Set Over Prohibition of Disparaging Trademarks

Section 2(a) of the Lanham act bars the registration of “scandalous, immoral or disparaging trademarks.” The USPTO has used this applied this provision to refuse the registration of marks such as F**K PROJECT, PORNO JESUS,...more

Federal Judge vs. TTAB – Trademark Battle over Bear Bryant’s Houndstooth Hat

The case of The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and Paul W. Bryant, Jr. v. Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises LLC et al. showcases an unusual clash between a federal judge and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board...more

Sixth Circuit Tracks Broader Definition of Commercial Advertising or Promotion in Lanham Act Claims for False Advertising

We’ve all been there: an ad for a pair of shoes we looked at follows us around the Internet long after we’ve closed the window; our Gmail account delivers ads for hotels at a destination for which we’ve just booked a flight;...more

The Circuit Split Deepens: Federal Circuit Holds Willful Infringement Required for Recovery of Trademark Infringer’s Profits

On March 31, 2016, the Federal Circuit weighed in on the circuit split regarding whether a trademark plaintiff must prove willful infringement before it may recover profits in Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc., on appeal...more

POM Wonderful LLC v. Coca Cola Co.: legal battle nearly over, but industry litigation landscape forever changed…

On March 18, 2016, Pom Wonderful LLC made closing arguments in its trial against Coca-Cola for the alleged misleading marketing of a pomegranate-blueberry juice which contained only trace amounts of either pomegranate or...more

In re Tam: Still No Trademark Registration for The Slants

In the continuing saga of whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment, the rock band The Slants will have to wait a little longer before it knows whether it can register...more

Copyright and Trademark Case Review: FLANAX, Fishing Tackle, Football Players and More

Summaries of Recent Precedential and Informative Appellate Opinions - Trademark Opinions - Owners of Foreign Marks May Sue Under Lanham Act Without Using Marks in the US: Belmora LLC v. Bayer Consumer Care AG,...more

The Slants’ Trademark Application Remains in Purgatory as Federal Circuit Passes on Pushing PTO to Publish

Late last year, Simon Tam and his legal team scored a big-time victory: they convinced the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (sitting en banc) that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violated the First Amendment. The Court...more

Franchisee Can’t Work Its Way Out of Trademark Infringement and Breach of Contract Litigation on Jurisdictional Grounds

An out-of-state franchisee sought to escape the reach of the Massachusetts District Court in a breach of contract and trademark infringement litigation filed by its Massachusetts-based franchisor. But, the parties quickly...more

Fourth Circuit Extends Section 43(a) Lanham Act Standing to Companies Not Selling Their Product or Using Their Mark in the U.S.

Last week, an appellate court held that a plaintiff has standing to bring a false association and false advertising claim under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, even though it did not use its mark or sell its competing...more

Fourth Circuit Holds No Use in the U.S. Required to Bring Claims Under the Lanham Act

On March 23, 2016, the Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision in Belmora LLC v. Bayer Consumer Care AG, 84 F. Supp. 3d 490 (E.D. Va. 2015) and remanded the case....more

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