Articles Posted in Trademark

Apple acquired partial European trademark rights to the word “lightning” from motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson’s intellectual property unit, H-D Michigan, LLC, according to public filings with the European Union’s trademark and design unit (see below), and a blog post by Patently Apple.

Apple uses the term Lightning to describe its proprietary connection interface for iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iTouch devices that were introduced starting in September 2012.

The trademark update, however, currently applies only in the EU, although it seems likely that Apple and H-D also negotiated for the transfer of certain U.S. trademark rights to the word mark.

The H-D unit filed a trademark registration on January 1, 1995, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “motorcycles and structural parts therefore,” and was awarded trademark registration by the USPTO for the word mark nearly 2.5 years later on June 3, 1997.
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After three years, language-learning software company Rosetta Stone settled its trademark lawsuit against Google over the company’s Adwords advertising program. (read the settlement below).

The litigation rollercoastered during that time. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Google’s motion to dismiss Rosetta Stone’s lawsuit on August 2, 2010, and the Rosetta Stone appealed the dismissal. In April 2012, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reinstated three (3) Rosetta Stone claims for direct infringement, contributory infringement, and trademark dilution.

Unfortunately, here is why the undisclosed terms of their settlement agreement won’t give any more insight into preventing online advertising trademark litigation in the future.

Facebook, online advertising agency adSage, and a web-based wholesaler of Chinese goods are named as defendants in a new class-action trademark lawsuit  accusing them of enabling the placement of, or placing ads for, counterfeit NFL apparel on the social network. (read it below)

Inkies Sports, Inc. d/b/a Krystal’s NFL Shoppe, a New Mexico-based retail store that only sells “officially licensed NFL merchandise” filed suit. Krystal’s charges that a litany of ads on its Facebook page offer competing, counterfeit merchandise at prices that can be 80% – 90% below the MSRP of an authentic, officially licensed NFL jersey.

But should Facebook and advertising agencies be held accountable for alleged wrongdoings of third party advertisers accused of hawking cheaper counterfeit goods? Prior case law suggests not.

Two years ago a federal appeals court held that eBay was not liable to Tiffany, Inc. for trademark infringement or dilution by offering Tiffany goods for sale that third parties listed for sale. It sent the case back to a lower court to further examine Tiffany’s false advertising claim, and determine whether extrinsic evidence showed that advertisements misled or confused consumers about Tiffany products offered for sale. The U.S. District Court ultimately ruled that eBay was not liable for false advertising, since it failed to obtain survey data showing that a substantial portion of consumers were misled. Continue reading →

For several months, Facebook has reportedly been developing and testing a “Want” button, to supplement its ubiquitous “Like” button. Just last week, Facebook announced that several companies will be testing the new “Want” button and showed what the button would look like.

On October 12, shortly after the release of its new highly anticipated “Want” button, Facebook was sued by a company called CVG-SAB LLC for alleged trademark infringement and other claims over its “Want” marks, including U.S. Trademark No. 4,200,861 and No. 3,923,229, among others. The company, better known by the name under which it does business—Want—operates a social and interactive site that connects people with products they have, like, or desire.

The complaint alleges that “Facebook introduced a WANT Button for services that are effectively the same as, or at least closely related to, Plaintiff’s WANT Button services.” It further argues that Facebook’s use of the button will and has already caused confusion and violates the federal Lanham Act, Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act, and state common law. Continue reading →

Last Tuesday, The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) upheld a decision to deny Apple’s trademark application to register its music feature mark that’s used on iPhones and other Apple products.  The reason?  The mark was confusingly similar to another mark that’s now owned by MySpace.  Both marks consist of two musical eighth notes on an orange background.  MySpace’s mark was originally issued to iLike, a music service that let users download and share music with each other.  However, MySpace bought iLike in 2009, and closed it down a few years later. Continue reading →

Pinterest filed a complaint at the end of August in the Northern District of California against Qian Jin of Nanjing, China, for cyberpiracy, trademark infringement and false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and unfair competition.  Specifically, Pinterest claims that Qian purchased dozens of “infringing” domain names that are nearly identical and confusingly similar to pinterest.com, and uses them purely for online advertisements.  Pinterest also alleges that Qian applied to register PINTEREST and PINTERESTS as trademarks in the United States in bad faith, stating that he had full knowledge of Pinterest’s brand and services. Continue reading →

Alabama Crimson Tide by David Smith (flickr/Diamondduste)Mary Cesar, the owner of Mary’s Cakes & Pastries in Northport, Alabama, received a cease-and-desist letter last week from Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) ordering her to stop selling products decorated with the University of Alabama’s trademarks and logos. Specifically, the letter stated she must stop using, “trademarks, names, logos, colors, slogans, mascots, and other indicia associated with the university” with the sale of her baked goods.

However, Cesar states that the university itself, as well as its athletic and legal departments, has placed orders for these very same products. She stated that she thought that the university wouldn’t place such orders if she had been doing something illegally.
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On July 19th, Rick Quereshi filed a Notice of Opposition against Twitter’s application for the mark TWEET.  Although Twitter applied for trademark protection of TWEET back on April 16, 2009, and the application was published for opposition later that year, Quereshi opposes the registration for the following reasons: 1) Twitter filed its application under an intent to use basis, yet no Allegation of Use has been filed to date; 2) Twitter has not used the TWEET mark in commerce with the identified classes of services from the application; and 3) Quereshi has been openly and notoriously using the TWEET mark in commerce via a mobile computing device since July 23, 2009.  Thus, under the doctrine of common law, Quereshi claims ownership of the mark TWEET due to its prior senior use. Continue reading →

Zynga, the online game maker of multimillion-dollar blockbuster games like FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and Words with Friends, sued French gaming company Kobojo today for trademark infringement over the company’s Pyramidville game (see it below).

At issue are Zynga’s trademark claims to all games ending with ville, the French word for town or village. Sacré bleu!

Zynga appears to be facing an uphill battle, however. Last month the USPTO sent the company a suspension letter halting the game maker’s attempt to trademark the word Ville. on hold.
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Watch out, Facebook users. Mark Zuckerberg’s social network giant recently modified the company’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (i.e., Terms of Service [‘TOS’]) to now allege that Facebook claims trademark rights to the word ‘Book.’ (Read it below)

Oh, and in case you forgot, Facebook also claims intellectual property rights to the words ‘Face,’ Poke, and ‘Wall’

Take a look for yourself:
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