Likelihood of Confusion

News & Analysis as of

Keyword ads — Only infringing if they’re confusing

Neighbors can be helpful. Our Canadian neighbors may have just helped U.S. trademark owners who wonder about the legality of use of their trademarks in Google AdWords ads, and other search-engine keyword ads....more

The Battle of the Kylies Over the “Kylie” Trademark

In one corner, you have the 19-year-old breakout star of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, Kylie Jenner, who is making a name for herself with her cosmetics and fashion empire. In the other corner, you have the 48-year-old singer,...more

Three Stripes and You’re Out

On March 17, Adidas American, Inc. sued Juicy Couture, Inc., in the District of Oregon (3:17-cv-00437), alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, deceptive trade practices, and breach of...more

Lanham Act Cannot Be Used to Create “Species of Mutant Copyright Law”

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court decision granting summary judgment to a defendant that its use of digital files did not infringe plaintiff’s trademark or trade dress for its CD-Gs...more

Less Utility Than Alternatives Does Not Make Product’s Trade Dress Protectable

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court grant of summary judgment in favor of a defendant finding that a bag’s design and shape was functional because the claimed design features affect the...more

U.S. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Win 4-0 Over Spanish Donuts

A decision rendered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on March 2, 2017, affirming a General Court ruling and potentially ending a nearly twenty-year legal battle, is a reminder to trademark owners that what is generic in...more

Just Like You and Me: Difficulties with Celebrity Trademark Applications

Under U.S. trademark law, any person (including a celebrity) can obtain a trademark registration for their name if they can establish that the public recognizes the name as a source identifier for certain products or...more

April Madness, the NCAA’s One Month Buffer?

We write a lot here about the scope and strength of trademark rights and how that determination is often intertwined to making intelligent likelihood of confusion determinations....more

My USPQ 1 Round Up: “Confusion in Letters”

The United States Patents Quarterly has been a resource used by intellectual property lawyers for a very long time. Most of the decisions published in USPQ are patent decisions, but there are a large number of trademark...more

SpongeBob Restaurant Found To Infringe Viacom’s Trademark

On January 11, 2017, the Southern District of Texas granted Viacom International Inc. summary judgment on its trademark infringement claim against IJR Capital Investments, LLC’s name for its proposed restaurant, “The Krusty...more

The Five Year Divide: Limited Recourse to Cancel Registrations, Even Those Void Ab Initio

The Sixth Circuit recently issued an opinion in NetJets Inc. v. IntelliJet Group, LLC Inc. (unpublished), holding that where a trademark registration is incontestable, it may not be cancelled on the ground that it was void ab...more

Likelihood of Confusion at Its Most Blatant

Imagine my surprise and amusement to find a recent shipment of wine included a very interesting red blend. The bottle featured a name that would make any trademark lawyer do a double-take...more

A March to Madness: Can the NCAA Claim Ownership of the Third Month of the Year?

The NCAA has a well-deserved reputation for being quite zealous when it comes to protecting its registered trademark “March Madness.” We previously blogged about this here at TheTMCA.com. But a recent opposition filed by the...more

Sixth Circuit Drops the Beat: Social Media Relevant in Determining Likelihood of Confusion

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a grant of summary judgment, holding that the plaintiff provided insufficient evidence to find that relevant consumers were likely to confuse the sources of his and the...more

Copyright and Trademark Case Review: Copyright Preemption, Software-as-a-Service and Popularity on the Internet

Copyright Decisions - Claim for Copying of Useful Article Design Preempted by Copyright Act: Ultraflo Corp. v. Pelican Tank Parts, Inc., No. 15-20084 (5th Cir. Jan. 11, 2017)...more

Selecting a Mark

While branding is important, selecting a mark for a new business can occupy a disproportionate amount of management’s time and the company’s resources, and present significant risks to the business....more

Germany: Unlicensed Hard Rock Cafe in Heidelberg Germany ceases operation

After years of litigation Hogan Lovells achieved a ground-breaking settlement for the Hard Rock Group. A restaurant with the same name which operated without a license in Heidelberg will cease to operate at the end of...more

2017 Intellectual Property Law Year In Review

Though politics ruled the headlines in 2016, the year still brought big changes in intellectual property law and its application, most notably in patent subject matter eligibility, inter partes review institution and appeal...more

McNees 2016 In Review – Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents

The year 2016 saw interesting and diverse developments in trademark, copyright, trade secret, and patent law. Not only has intellectual property news been in the headlines, but these areas have made it to the Supreme Court....more

Circuit Split Remains: SCOTUS Passes on Defining Nominative Fair Use

In a recent disappointment to those advocating clarity for the muddy waters of determining permissible use of third-party trademarks under the nominative fair use doctrine, the Justices of the United States Supreme Court...more

“Pardon Me, PORTON,” says PATRON, “But We Heard You”

Pisco is a light-colored brandy traditionally produced in portions of Peru and Chile.  One brand that offers this product in the United States is PISCO PORTÓN (the later word meaning “gate” in Spanish)....more

Making Tequila and Pisco Shots Safe From Confusion

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) cancelled the registration for the mark PORTÓN last week, finding it to be confusingly similar to the senior mark PATRÓN. Patrón...more

Trademark Trial and Appeal Board: Non-Spanish Speakers Would Confuse PATRON and PORTON Trademarks

In a non-precedential opinion, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled two US trademark registrations for the mark PORTON, finding it to be confusingly similar to the mark PATRON. Patron Spirits International AG...more

Suggestive Versus Descriptive Marks

Addressing the validity of, and likelihood of confusion between, two data-driven analytic software companies’ “Collective”-formative trademarks, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed with the district...more

The Vegas Golden Knights – Trademark Denied

Another update for you on the new Las Vegas NHL team. In my previous posts on this interesting saga (here and here), I discussed the team’s unique marketing and trademark strategy leading up to the announcement last month of...more

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