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‘Dumb Starbucks’ parody shuts down but debate over trademark law & parody continues

February 18, 2014 3 comments

By Professor Tonya M. Evans

dumbstarbucks-cupsOn February 9th, The Huff Post and other media outlets reported the grand opening of a store in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, “Dumb Starbucks”. The clever prankish parody even caught the attention of Forbes:

‘Although it looks like Starbucks, smells like Starbucks and even acts like Starbucks (the super-friendly baristas asking for your name were hired off Craigslist), the whole thing is an elaborate goof on Starbucks culture. A list of Frequently Asked Questions posted on premises compared the place to Weird Al Yankovic’s homage to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Dumb Starbucks, you see, is the “Eat It” of $6 coffee drinks.’ Source: Forbes.com

Amazingly, people stood in line for hours for the Dumb Starbucks java, which reportedly was whatever the local grocery store had on hand for the few days Dumb Starbucks remained open. The locals and media alike seemed to get a big kick out of the entire thing. Starbucks execs? Um, not so much. The Dumb Starbucks mastermind, Comedy Central comedian Nathan Fielder from Nathan for You, explained the method to his parodic madness and the Starbucks response to Jimmy Kimmel recently:

The store shutdown for reasons completely unrelated to the trademark vs. parody debate. It seems that Fielder not only caught the attention of the coffee giant, Starbucks, but also the local health department. The Health Department cited code violations for selling coffee without a permit. And there is no word on whether Fielder will attempt to secure the necessary permissions to re-open. But what is sure to re-open and remain so is the debate on whether the First Amendment and parody trumps trademark law. Read more…

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USPTO rejects “REDSKINS” trademark app for a snackfood as offensive. What does that mean for the team?

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Bob Marley estate & chicken fingers co. set to battle over ONE LOVE trademark

January 7, 2014 Leave a comment

January 8, 2013

Source: http://www.mondaq.com

On December 6, 2013, Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, Ltd. (“Hope Road”), which controls reggae legend Bob Marley’s estate, filed a federal trademark infringement action against the restaurant company Raising Cane’s USA, LLC (“Raising Cane’s”).  Hope Road alleges ownership of the trademark ONE LOVE in connection with a number of goods and services.  It further claims that Raising Cane’s unauthorized use of the same mark in connection with restaurant services is a violation of Hope Road’s rights.

There seems to be little doubt that Hope Road began using the ONE LOVE mark before Raising Cane’s, perhaps even in connection with restaurant services.  However, the legal difference between common-law trademark rights and rights provided by trademark registrations may prove central to this dispute.”

Read the full article at Celebrity Trademark Watch

Facebook, Zuckerberg to Face a Jury over rights to “Timeline” trademark issue

April 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Source: Bloomberg.com

 

Credit: Involver.com

Facebook Inc. (FB) (FB), owner of the world’s largest social-networking service, lost bid to end a trademark infringement lawsuit over its use of “timeline” and related terms.

Timelines Inc. started a Web site in 2009 that lets users create chronologies tracing historical events such as wars, sporting events and advances in science. It sued Facebook for infringement and unfair competition in September 2011, a week after the social-network announced it was adding a “timeline” feature to its user pages.

Facebook counter-sued, claiming Timelines’ registered marks weren’t sufficiently distinctive to warrant protection and asking for judgments of non-infringement and a cancellation of the registrations.

Read the full article about Facebook Timeline Trademark battle at Bloomberg.com

“Kaepernicking” is San Fran 49er QB’s signature move. But is it a trademark?

January 29, 2013 Leave a comment

On January 14, 2013, attorneys for San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed 5 intent-to-use applications to trademark various iterations of the star QB’s name as well as an in-use application for the word mark “KAEPERNICKING”, his bicep-kissing act that has taken on a life of its own during the team’s post-season journey to Superbowl XLVII:

Serial Number Reg. Number Word Mark Check Status Live/Dead
1 85822730 KAEPERNICK7 TSDR LIVE
2 85822727 KAP TSDR LIVE
3 85822721 KAP7 TSDR LIVE
4 85822715 KAEPERNICK CK7 TSDR LIVE
5 85822707 COLIN KAEPERNICK TSDR LIVE

[public record information from: USPTO.gov]

Word Mark KAEPERNICKING
Goods and Services IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Clothing, namely shirts. FIRST USE: 20121231. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20121231
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 85822700
Filing Date January 14, 2013
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Owner (APPLICANT) Kaepernick, Colin INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES P.O. Box 1725 Madison WISCONSIN 537011725
Attorney of Record Bruce H. Bernstein
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Just What Is a Trademark, You Ask?

A trademark protects a word, phrase, symbol, or device – the mark – used in commerce to identify and distinguish one product from another. Interestingly, even color (Tiffany blue box), scent (Plumeria) and sound (NBC chimes or MGM lion’s roar) can function as a trademark.

Each state has its own state laws to protect commerce within the state. And the Lanham Act provides protection across the country. Unregistered marks are also protected under state and federal case law. [More about trademarks and other types of intellectual property]

ESPN.com reports the story as follows:

Colin Kaepernick has become a brand worth protecting.

At least he thinks so.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback has filed for the trademark “Kaepernicking,” his bicep-kissing act that has swept the West Coast during the team’s postseason run.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website shows the registration was filed on Jan. 14, and Kaepernick intends to use it on clothing, specifically T-shirts.

Read the full article “Colin Kaepernick Files To Trademark “Kaepernicking” at ESPN.com

[ESPN video: Colin Kaepernick Files To Trademark “Kaepernicking”]

Prof down! My injury, your gain. The most popular posts about intellectual property, revisited.

August 5, 2012 Leave a comment

If you know me personally you probably know I’ve been going through quite an ordeal lately. Three weeks or so ago a wonderful game of tennis turned injury-laden for this aging (gracefully?) former collegiate and professional athlete.

I suffered a partial tear of my plantar fascia and was sidelined for two weeks before I could even get up and around on my own and at least return to my own city and home.

Physical therapy is just around the corner now that the acute pain and most swelling has subsided. Also just around the corner? A new sport!

Just posting a quick “check in” to assure you both my scholarship about intellectual property issues and my end of summer posts about current hot topics are “in progress”. So, my injury is your gain. I was sidelined long enough to enjoy substantial periods of rest AND to find significant pockets of productivity time in between.

Hope you’re enjoying a wonderfully restful and productive summer too. Many thanks for remaining plugged into ProfTonyaEvans.com. Check out some of my most popular posts from my archives:

Be well,

Prof. TE

Has Facebook secured the right to exclusive use of “Book” thru its TOU?

April 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Source: Lexology.com

Facebook login page

While FB may never secure a trademark on the word “book”, it appears to be attempting to secure its market position through its terms of use.

“Facebook has previously filed over 80 trademark applications on variations of its name and other terms such as “POKE”, “WALL” and “LIKE”. Facebook now seems to be attempting to claim some level of ownership/protection over the word “book” as well.

In a recent revision to Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” which is the agreement all users must accept when accessing Facebook, language was inserted which states (emphasis added) “[y]ou will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.”

Read the full article about Facebook’s trademark claims to “book”

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