Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

trademark law Archives

Controversy over Disney's 'Lion King' trademarks

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.

Alfonso Ribeiro sues video game maker over trademark dance

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.

Jay-Z agrees to arbitration in trademark infringement case

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.

Policing trademarks requires diligence

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.

Court says brewery can trademark Schlafly name

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.

Appeals court sends Converse shoe trademark case back to ITC

Many consumers in New Jersey recognize Chuck Taylor shoe designs for Converse. Over the past several years, the shoe company has battled with competitors over alleged infringement of its trademark design for the Chucks. A new decision from a federal appeals court has reversed a previous court ruling and directed the U.S. International Trade Commission to reconsider the trademark claims based on evidence from only the previous five years instead of the information spanning decades used in the original case.

Be on the lookout for trademark scams

Those who come with up with new or unique ideas in New Jersey or elsewhere may be able to trademark them. However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is warning those with active trademark applications about a scam designed to alter them without permission. If a trademark application or registration has been changed, the USPTO will send an email to whoever submitted it. It is important to take such an email seriously.

Office space giants in trademark battle

Two giants in the flexible office space market in New Jersey and across the country are engaged in a trademark infringement battle over the term "HQ." The dispute was launched after WeWork created a new business line, HQ by WeWork. In response, Regus alleged that the name violates a trademark of HQ Network Systems that has been in place for 28 years. The HQ trademark was acquired with the company by Regus in 2004.

Lawsuit against Apple has confusing trademark paper trail

Financial motives typically motivate companies in New Jersey to defend their intellectual property. The trademark dispute between Apple Inc. and Social Technologies LLC illustrates the high stakes that prompt companies to establish their trademarks and patents. The companies are contesting ownership of the trademark for Memoji, but a strange paper trail from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confuses the matter.

Dunkin' Donuts heads toward a new future for its trademarks

When people in New Jersey think about an early-morning coffee or sweet treat, the Dunkin' Donuts name may be one of the first things that come to mind. The brand is well-known nationally and internationally for its doughnuts, donut-hole treats and coffee beverages. It has also garnered attention for its announced plans to rebrand itself in January 2019, dropping the term "Donuts" and becoming simply "Dunkin'". Some have argued that it is an attempt to make the brand seem more health-conscious, while the company noted that it is because it is focusing more heavily on coffee, a major driver of daily visits to the chain stores.

Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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