Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

trademark law Archives

Supreme Court rules in favor of reclaimed slur as a band name

A June Supreme Court ruling may be of interest to New Jersey music lovers. A band by the name of The Slants consists of Asian-American members. The lead man in the group stated that the band name was meant to reclaim the offensive term so that it could be repurposed as a point of pride.

Google lawsuit tests boundaries of generic trademarks

New Jersey residents may not be aware that the names of many common household items were once fiercely protected intellectual property. Thermos, cellophane and aspirin are all used generically today to refer to a broad range of goods, but they were once trademarks associated with specific products. Legislators addressed the issue of genericized trademarks with the passage of the Langham Act in 1946, but the law does not make clear how trademarks should be treated when they become commonly used as verbs rather than nouns.

Using a trademark first may not provide protection

Using a trademark first may not protect New Jersey trademark applicants from losing out to a registrant who files first for the mark. In an April federal court decision, the company EMC lost its claim to the trademark "Unity" for software products in data management, despite having given presentations using the name over half a year before another company filed for a trademark.

IP owners urged to register trademarks in Cuba

Intellectual property owners in New Jersey and around the country may be familiar with the practice of trademark squatting. This occurs when individuals or companies register U.S.-protected trademarks in countries where the trademark holder has no commercial presence. Trademarks are protected under U.S. law for three years even when they are not used. Business experts have urged American companies to aggressively register their trademarks in Cuba even if they have no immediate plans to conduct business there. The issue was brought up on April 5 during an international conference on property law held by the American Bar Association.

Retailer sues New Jersey store over trademark

A lawsuit has been filed in a New Jersey district court alleging that the name and logo of a Paterson convenience store were chosen to mislead consumers by making it appear that the store was part of, or connected with, a large chain of similar stores. Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. operates more than 700 stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Florida, and attorneys representing the retail chain say that they are only suing Dawa Food Inc. because their attempts to resolve the matter amicably have been rebuffed.

Court rules copies of karaoke CDs did not violate trademarks

Many people in New Jersey have witnessed karaoke performances and perhaps participated in some. As theyknow, karaoke performances generally rely on the use of altered musical recordings. In 2016, a company that makes karaoke CDs sued a company that hosts karaoke shows for trademark infringement.

Controversial trademark dispute could affect the NFL

Football fans in New Jersey and around the country may have good reason to pay attention to a trademark dispute involving The Slants, an Asian-American rock band. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the band a trademark in 2011 because its name is considered a racial slur, and the case has many similarities with the controversy surrounding the name and logo of the Washington Redskins.

Court rules Little Caesar's does not own "family of marks"

New Jersey residents may recognize the phrase 'Pizza! Pizza!" as a slogan that was made popular by the restaurant chain Little Caesar's. While it may own a trademark for its most iconic phrase, the company will not be allowed to trademark other repeated word phrases by calling them a 'family of marks".

Rapper Rick Ross wins lawsuit over "Mastermind"

New Jersey residents who are fans of rapper Rick Ross may be familiar with his 2014 album "Mastermind"After Ross released the record through Universal Music Group, he went on a tour called that name and incorporated the term 'Mastermind" into his public persona. Another musician who claimed that he owned the trademark for Mastermind subsequently took Ross to court.

Amazon wins trademark infringement case over Fire TV

New Jersey residents who have purchased items from Amazon may be familiar with the company's use of the word 'fire" in many of its house brand products. The Kindle Fire tablet that was released in 2011 was the first product to contain the word 'fire" in its name. Since then, Amazon has sold other 'fire" products including the Amazon Fire TV, a set-top box that was released in April 2014.

Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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