Companies in New Jersey and around the country file applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to protect branding elements like their names and logos, but their applications sometimes prompt other businesses to take legal action to prevent what is known as trademark dilution. They might do so to maintain brand uniqueness against businesses that have similar names even when their product lines do not overlap. The apparel and footwear company Under Armor has initiated several such actions.
Some people in New Jersey enjoy drinking Monster Energy drinks to pep up in the middle of the day, but they may not know that the company has developed a reputation for aggressive trademark enforcement. While companies have a responsibility to protect their intellectual privacy, some have questioned Monster's eagerness to pursue potential trademark violations that seem to be far from the company's primary area of work. In addition, the company is often unsuccessful in its trademark cases, especially those that seem to be a significant reach outside its registered area of protection.
Attempts to file for and receive trademarks are common among organizations throughout New Jersey and the rest of the United States. While some requests may sound unusual, there are many reasons to seek trademark approval.
WeWork is a popular brand for co-working spaces, attracting freelancers, small businesses and even outposts of large corporations to share office space at its locations in New Jersey and across the country. The company has been criticized, however, for its corporate structure. One area of criticism has been the relationship with the company's founder and CEO. Following media reports, the company's CEO recently returned around $5.9 million worth of stock options that he had received earlier. The CEO was paid in stock options for the company to acquire the trademark "We," which had originally been held by a smaller company controlled by the chief executive officer and his co-founder.
Football fans in New Jersey and around the country will likely know that a catchy nickname can add to the aura surrounding an athlete. Nicknames can be valuable intellectual property, but they can be difficult to protect if they are not original. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady learned this lesson on Aug. 22 when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected his application to trademark the nickname "Tom Terrific".
New Jersey residents may be aware that many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to compete with online sellers like Amazon. The big-box chain J.C. Penny was once one of the country's most successful retail chains, but it now faces falling sales and an uncertain future. An earnings report released on Aug. 15 reveals that the chain lost $48 million during the second quarter, and the company's fortunes took another hit recently when the popular exercise and weight loss program Zumba sued it for trademark infringement.
New Jersey fans may love Prince's music as well as the late entertainer's signature style. However, his estate is still fighting with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over an attempt to register a specific shade of purple as a trademark for musical recordings, music videos and entertainment services. Prince's estate is attempting to register Pantone's "Love Symbol #2", a particular shade of purple closely connected to Prince's public persona and musical works. The estate is working with Paisley Park Enterprises, the holding company for Prince's intellectual property rights, in an attempt to register the color as a trademark.
Many New Jersey consumers and businesses rely on PayPal or Venmo for money transfers or online purchases. A fewer number may have heard of Lenmo, an online startup that focuses on peer-to-peer loans. However, PayPal is suing Lenmo for trademark infringement, claiming that the company is seeking to unlawfully profit from the goodwill and fame of its Venmo brand trademark. Venmo is a PayPal subsidiary brand marketed primarily to younger people. While its lack of fees attracted many to the mobile app, where it is used to transfer money between friends or make online purchases, it is growing more popular overall as a way to pay for music, food and ride share services.
For many New Jersey businesses, protecting their intellectual property can be an important part of keeping their brands active and growing. There are a number of different venues where companies can take legal action against infringement of their trademarks, patents and copyrights. However, one question that may arise is whether a decision in one venue may prevent the issues from being raised again in a different court. According to one federal appeals court's decision, U.S. International Trade Commission rulings on trademark infringement do not necessarily preclude litigating the issue again in federal district court.
The Supreme Court made a ruling that will have an impact on intellectual property, specifically trademarks, in New Jersey and across the country. On June 24, the justices struck down a rule that had been in place for a long time banning scandalous or immoral symbols and words from trademark protections. The immediate case involved a clothing brand whose trademark application had been rejected.