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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
Trademarks are names and symbols that help consumers in New Jersey and around the country to identify the products and services that they want to purchase again. By trademarking a catchy name or a memorable logo, a business can make sure that its customers can find its products again. At the same time, trademarks can help consumers to remember the products and services that they do not want to purchase again.
New Jersey companies that need to protect a trademark may be interested in the outcome of one case that dealt with insect repellent products using the name "Bug Off". One was first sold in the early 1990s by a company called SunFeather. However, when SunFeather filed a federal trademark application in 2002, it was rejected on the grounds that two other companies had filed trademark applications for the same name in 1998. A fourth company, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., also filed an application in 2003 but was rejected for the same reason.
When New Jersey business owners decide to trademark their names, logos and symbols, they will need to form descriptions of the goods and services their businesses offer. These lists are reviewed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and can determine if a business's goods and services are too similar to others previously registered. Competitors may also use these descriptions to determine if they can get away with creating a similar product.