Category Archives: Trademark

Downward Spiral Continues for Redskins as Judge Upholds Trademark Cancellation Decision

On Wednesday, July 08, a federal judge ordered the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations. United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ruled that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should cancel the team’s trademark, finding that the name “may disparage” Native Americans. Judge Gerald Bruce Lee’s decision affirmed the earlier ruling by the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  In that ruling, the appeal board held in a 2-1 vote that the team’s moniker is offensive to Native Americans and therefore ineligible…

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Katy Perry’s “Left Shark” Design Fails to Overcome Trademark Hurdles

The U.S. Trademark Office blocked Katy Perry’s attempt to capitalize on a “Left Shark” design.  According to David Collier, the trademark examiner, to be able to register a trademark, a mark or design must “function as a service mark to identify and distinguish applicant’s services from those of others and to indicate the source of applicant’s services.”  Based on evidence submitted by Perry, the Office found that the shark design failed to sufficiently conjure up Katy Perry or her music performance.  Collier also noted that…

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Former San Diego Chargers Wants $18M For “Lights Out” Trademark Infringement

On April 6, Shawne Merriman, former San Diego Chargers linebacker, filed a motion for summary judgment to ask the judge to resolve the trademark infringement dispute that began last year against Nike over “Lights Out” mark. Claiming the ownership of the mark, Merriman said, “After I was given the nickname ‘Lights Out’ ® in high school, I decided to create a brand while I was at the University of Maryland. From 2002-2005 I sold approximately 2000 t-shirts printed with the Lights Out…

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Rise and Fall of an Empire (Distribution, Inc.)

In the pilot episode of Fox’s smash-hit series Empire, Cookie Lyon, explaining why, after her release from jail, she’s returning to her husband Lucious Lyon’s fictional record label, Empire Entertainment, says simply: “I’m here to get what’s mine.”  This is, of course, in reference to the formerly-jailed matriarch having taken the rap for Lucious to the tune of 17 years behind bars for drug-running while he built his music “empire.” Coincidentally, it also may sum up the thinking over the last couple of months…

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Oprah Free to Say “Own Your Power”

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty ruled that Oprah Winfrey may use the phrase “Own Your Power,” ending a trademark battle that started in 2011.  Ruling in favor of Oprah, the judge found that Oprah demonstrated that the phrase “lack[ed] the requisite distinctiveness” to warrant trademark protection. The suit was brought by Simone Kelly-Brown, a motivational speaker and business coach, who runs Own Your Power Communications, Inc.  She argued that the phrase was registered in 2008.  Then in 2010, the Oprah…

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“The Blueprint” for an Infringement?

A recently-filed case in a California federal court has Jay-Z and his promoters at Live Nation wondering whether they’ll continue to reap the benefits of the 1999 hit single Big Pimpin’ or whether they’ll be “spending G’s” to clean up a potential infringement posed by a sample looped throughout one of S. Carter’s most famous tracks.  Last week, an Egyptian plaintiff named Osama Ahmed Fahmy sued Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., seeking unspecified actual damages and costs, alleging Live Nation’s continued “use” of Big Pimpin’ in…

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“I’m just here so I won’t get fined” Trademarked by Lynch in Response to Fans

Last week, Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch filed a trademark of the now-household phrase “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” which he popularized during Super Bowl XLIX media day. Marshawn Lynch has had a storied history with the media, giving reporters little to nothing worth printing during interviews.  Some say it is selfish for him to withhold his opinion from his fan base, and some say it is unfair to force the football player to speak about the game.  Either…

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Lawyers for Redskins Put Different Spin on Trademark Case

The Redskins filed a motion to overturn the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to cancel the team’s trademark because it infringes on freedom of speech rights and “unfairly singles the team out.” The lawyers for the team argued that the cancellation decision “unfairly singles out the Redskins for disfavored treatment based solely on the content of its protected speech, interfering with the ongoing public discourse over the Redskins’ name by choosing sides and cutting off the debate.  This the U.S. Constitution does not tolerate.”…

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Washington Redskins Argue a Violation of their Free Speech

The Washington Redskins fought back against the recent decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office cancelling the team’s  trademark protection over the use of the term ‘redskin’ as many Native American groups find it disparaging. The court papers filed Monday by the team argue the law denying registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional because it infringes on the team’s First Amendment right to free speech.  The team’s attorneys argue the cancellation of the trademarks disfavors the team and singles them out, “interfering with the…

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