New Jersey fans of Disney's "The Lion King" franchise may be surprised to learn that the entertainment company trademarked a traditional African phrase as part of its promotion for the associated films. Disney is beginning to promote a live-action remake underway of the classic animated film. "Hakuna matata," a Swahili phrase that can be translated as "no problems," is a significant theme of the family film. However, a Zimbabwean activist is protesting the American company's trademark on the phrase, which is widely used throughout eastern and southern Africa.
Business owners in New Jersey aren't the only ones who can trademark certain attributes unique to their brand. Some actors can do the same thing with characteristics specific to their image. This is exactly what Alfonso Ribeiro is attempting to do with a popular dance he performed while on the hit 1990s TV show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The actor is suing a video game maker for replicating his famous, over-exaggerated moves. A different manufacturer has also been sued by the actor for doing the same thing.
New Jersey music fans may be interested to learn that Jay-Z has agreed to proceed with arbitration in his legal fight with Iconix Brand Group. The brand management company filed a lawsuit against the iconic rap artist and entrepreneur for trademark infringement after the "Roc Nation" logo was used on Major League Baseball apparel.
For many business owners and entrepreneurs in New Jersey, intellectual property is among the business's most valuable assets. Trademark law requires the owner of the mark to take steps to protect it, even after it's been legally registered. If the trademark is not protected, the business is at risk of losing it. To effectively protect a brand that the business has spent time and effort establishing, the business needs a comprehensive strategy, the development of which may begin long before the mark is even in use.
A federal court has ruled that a brewery can trademark the word Schlafly despite the protestations of the family whose name it is. New Jersey readers might be familiar with the late Phyllis Schlafly, who was a conservative activist. Some members of her family have opposed the trademarking of their name by a company called Saint Louis Brewery LLC. One of the company's co-founders is Thomas Schlafly, a nephew of Phyllis.