On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., 591 U.S. ___ (2020) that “Booking.com” is eligible for trademark registration because consumers do not perceive “Booking.com” as a generic name. The 8-1 decision written by Justice Ginsburg rejected the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s argument that when a generic term is combined with a generic Internet-domain-name suffix like “.com,” the resulting combination is necessarily generic, noting that such an unyielding legal rule that entirely disregards consumer perception is incompatible with the Lanham Act.Read More
In-N-Out Burgers, Inc v Hashtag Burgers Pty Ltd  FCA 193
Sydney burger chain Down N’ Out is looking to appeal Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann’s ruling in a case brought by American fast food giant In-N-Out Burgers, Inc. (In-N-Out). In her decision handed down earlier this year, Justice Katzmann found that Down N’ Out infringed In-N-Out’s registered trade marks and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and passing off. At a hearing last week, her Honour made declarations regarding Down N’ Out’s infringing conduct and granted Down N’ Out leave to appeal the orders. The determination of compensation will take place after any appeal.Read More
Fashion mogul and former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham has lost the first round of a trade mark battle with Australian skincare brand, VB Skinlab, in relation to two of VB Skinlab’s pending Australian trade mark applications for the “VB” brand filed in March 2018. A full copy of the decision can be found here.Read More
In the case Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC v Bega Cheese Limited  FCAFC 65, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has dismissed Kraft’s appeal of a decision entitling Bega to exclusive use of the iconic yellow lid and yellow label with a blue or red peanut device on its peanut butter jars.Read More
Who owns a celebrity’s tattoo, and the extent to which that tattoo can be displayed in a commercial context, raises right of publicity, copyright, and trademark issues. A district court in the recent Solid Oak case found no copyright infringement where a video game incorporated tattoos as inked on professional NBA players. Solid Oak Sketches, LLC v. 2K Games, Inc., No. 16-CV-724-LTS-SDA (S.D.N.Y. March 26, 2020).
This case considered use of tattoos as part of lifelike depictions of professional athletes in video games, however the ruling easily relates to individuals with tattoos who commodify their likeness such as celebrities, social media influencers, and musicians.Read More
A nearly 20-year dispute between two competitors in the apparel industry will be heard by the Supreme Court Monday January 13, 2020, on the legal issue of claim preclusion – highlighting the practical pitfalls of releasing trademark infringement claims in settlement agreement between parties that continue to use the marks at issue. The case is Lucky Brands Dungarees, Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group, Inc., Case No. 18-1086.
The practical lessons to draw from this dispute are numerous:
- the importance of initially clearing marks and implementing a plan to handle potential third party objections
- strategic enforcement as to when, and against whom, to enforce trademark rights – and squarely on point with this nearly 20 year battle now before the Supreme Court
- careful drafting of what claims are released in the context of future use of the same or similar trademarks.
Blockchain technology is considered by many to be one of the most important technologies developed in recent years. It is often misunderstood and its potential has yet to be fully realised and harnessed. Blockchain has been the subject of a large amount of negative press due to volatile price fluctuations of its biggest user, the cryptocurrency, and this has generated a public mistrust.
However, blockchain could hold the answer to two of technology’s greatest challenges: data reliability and security. These two things are particularly important in the healthcare and life sciences sector where veracity of data is a life or death question and the safety of our most intimate data is paramount.Read More
The EU General Court has rejected a trade mark application which featured the word ‘Cannabis’ together with images of cannabis leaves as it was contrary to public policy.Read More
Many of us had a Tic Tac box in our pockets as kids, no matter the country we grew up in. Ferrero Spa (“Ferrero”), the Italian manufacturer of Tic Tac (and lots of other delicious confectionary products) registered the Tic Tac box as a trade mark in several jurisdictions, including Italy.
After succeeding before the CJEU in the invalidation action against BMB sp. z o.o. earlier this year (click here), in a recent case brought before the Italian courts, Ferrero successfully defended its shape marks, despite the invalidity claim brought by S.r.o. Mocca spol. (“Mocca”), a Czech company selling Bliki-branded mints in an identical container.Read More
Cannabis is a rapidly evolving field with 33 states and the District of Columbia having passed laws broadly legalizing some form of medicinal or recreational use. Of those states, eleven and the District of Columbia have adopted the broadest form of legalization: recreational use. General trends of decriminalization and legalization of cannabis, at the state level, may encourage future legalization at the federal level as well. As with any other high-growth opportunity, business investment in cannabis is on the rise, and intellectual property is a vital concern. Below are five intellectual property takeaways to consider for cannabis-related endeavors.Read More