The Handmaid’s Fail: Can Trademark Dilution Exist in Lingerie?

Trademark, Trademark Blurring, Trademark Dilution, Trademark Infringement, Uncategorized
One of my favorite things on premium television is streaming network Hulu's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's bestselling dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale”. After a highly acclaimed (13 Emmy nominations, 8 wins) debut season, the online series had its much-anticipated Season 2 premier last week. For those who have not yet seen the show or read the novel, THT tells the story of Offred (played by the always fantastic Elizabeth Moss), a “handmaid” living in a future totalitarian, theocratic state that has replaced the good 'ol USA.  For reasons neither the show nor novel get into, the wives of Gilead’s ruling elite (all men, naturally) have been rendered barren and, as a result, fertile women like Offred (who is married with a young daughter of her own) are kidnapped and forced…
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Trade Names and Trademarks and Why Your Business Should Know The Difference

Trade Names and Trademarks and Why Your Business Should Know The Difference

Trade Names, Trademark, Trademark Infringement
"I've already registered my trade name, I don't need to register my trademark..."  These words, or similar ones, are something I hear often from small business owners.   While the two terms may sound similar, they are definitely not the same thing legally and confusing or ignoring the difference could set your business up for bigger (and far more costly) problems down the road. What's In A (Trade) Name? A trade name (also sometimes known as a "d/b/a", a fictitious name, or an assumed name) is simply the official name you have chosen to call your business.  Trade names usually come up in the case of sole proprietors (and sometimes informal partners) who prefer to market and operate their business using a name other than their own personal ones. For example,…
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I can’t afford Federal Trademark registration. What should I do?

I can’t afford Federal Trademark registration. What should I do?

Common Law Trademark, Trademark, Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition
Every so often, I have potential clients in a situation similar to a business owner couple that came to see with me last week; they have a logo or a word or a phrase which they use as a trademark and have actually used it in commerce but, for whatever reason, they cannot yet afford to hire a lawyer to file for Federal trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which can usually involve at least several hundred or more in attorney's fees and another few hundred just for the filing fees.   It made me think that there are other small businesses and business owners who might be in the same boat and looking for temporary alternatives until they can put together enough funds to register their trademark.…
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And I Said, What About Costco Infringing Tiffany’s?

Trademark, Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition
Last month, a federal district court judge ordered bulk-retail giant Costco to pay iconic luxury brand Tiffany more than $11 million in lost profits from Costco's trademark infringement, in addition to $8.25 million in punitive damages which were awarded by a jury back in October 2016. Tiffany sued Costco after discovering that the megaretailer's employees were responding to customer inquiries by calling certain solitaire diamond rings “Tiffany” rings. The Costco rings at the center of the dispute had a pronged setting that Costco argued were commonly known as a “Tiffany setting” however, some of the display cases at Costco stores just happened to drop the “setting” or “style” part and simply described the rings to customer as “Tiffany”. Besides being a juicy legal fight between two well-known public companies, the…
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“Alphabet” Soup: What Your Business Can Learn from Google’s Re-brand

Common Law Trademark, Trademark, Trademark Infringement, USPTO
Last year, search giant Google announced it was reorganizing and creating a holding company with the name “Alphabet”. Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page wrote, “We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity's most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search”. Although a nice sentiment, Google's name change could create legal headaches for the search titan, with hundreds of companies already using the innocuous-sounding 'Alphabet.' If you think about trademarks on a spectrum of strongest to weakest, there are five main types. At the strong end are coined or fanciful names; marks which, on their own, do not mean anything. The “Google” mark is actually an example of such a mark. Be honest,…
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