Knobbe/Martens: Intellectual Property Law


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Can Ear Plugs Tune Out Color? Bright Green Color For Ear Plugs Not Functional

June 21, 2018 Shuchen Gong and Nicole R. Townes

Moldex-Metric, Inc. filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against McKeon Products.  Moldex-Metric asserted that McKeon infringed its unregistered trade dress consisting of a bright green color for foam ear plugs by using a similar green color for ear plugs.

Nike Accuses Puma of Patent Infringement for Flyknit, Air, and Cleat Technology

June 7, 2018 Loni Morrow and Ian W. Gillies

Nike filed a lawsuit against Puma on May 3, 2018 in the District Court of Massachusetts accusing Puma of infringing over 40 claims of seven utility patents.  The complaint asserts that Puma is using Nike’s Flyknit®, Air®, and cleat assembly in several of Puma’s footwear products.  Footwear generally includes two primary elements, (1) an “upper,” which covers the foot, and (2) a “sole” structure, which is the portion located below the upper, between the foot and the ground.  Nike’s Flyknit technology appears to relate to footwear uppers, whereas its Air technology and cleat assembly appear to relate to footwear sole structures.

When Plaid Goes Bad - Burberry Files Infringement Suit Against Target Over Burberry’s Iconic Plaid Design

On May 2, 2018, high-end fashion designer and retailer Burberry Limited filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against big box retailer Target Corporation alleging trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting (among other claims) for Target’s alleged “repeated, willful and egregious misappropriation of Burberry’s famous and iconic luxury check trademarks.

New USPTO Specimen Pilot Program

March 14, 2018 Jonathan Hyman

On March 6, 2018 the USPTO announced that it has started a pilot program that makes it easy to report specimens that have been digitally created, altered or fabricated.  Third parties that believe that an application contains suspect specimens can now send an email to to report such issues.


Vintage or Protectable? Steve Madden Creates Waves for the Ark

March 12, 2018 Loni Morrow and Jonathan Hyman

Jasmin Larian, the owner of Cult Gaia, started selling the “Ark” bag in 2013.  Since then the Ark bag has been seen on celebrities including Jessica Alba and was even touted as 2017’s “IT” bag.  

Seasick Trademarks Walking the Plank? Don’t Let Yeezy Make You Queasy

March 1, 2018 Shuchen Gong and Ian W. Gillies

Successful brands from the United States, and particularly those branded by U.S. celebrities, are often received with similar enthusiasm in other parts of the world.  Recently, YEEZY shoes designed by Kanye West made their much anticipated debut to sneaker-heads in China.  These consumers were delighted when a physical YEEZY store opened in Wenzhou.  There was one problem­ – all the shoes in the store appeared to be knockoffs, replicas, or complete counterfeits of the genuine YEEZY products.

Attorneys’ Fee Decision Should put Louis Vuitton in a Good Mood, but will it Gain a Sense of Humor?

January 29, 2018 Loni Morrow and Jonathan Hyman

In December, the Second Circuit ruled that My Other Bag (MOB) was not liable for infringing Louis Vuitton’s trademarks and copyrights because MOB’s bags were a parody of the luxury giant.

Beware! A Trademark Trial and Appeals Board Decision Can Stop You in Your Tracks

January 29, 2018 Nicole R. Townes and Jeff Van Hoosear

It has been a few years since the Supreme Court decision in the case B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., and we are beginning to see the aftermath in the district courts.  In B&B Hardware, the Supreme Court held that decisions of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) regarding whether a trademark should be entitled to federal registration can have a preclusive effect in trademark infringement actions in district court.  Specifically, the Supreme Court held that “[s]o long as the other ordinary elements of issue preclusion are met, when the usages adjudicated by the TTAB are materially the same as those before the district court, issue preclusion should apply.”  See B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1293, 1310 (2015).

Anything Your Heart Designs: Swarovski Hit with Copyright Infringement of Galatea’s “Two In One Heart” Design

January 18, 2018 Chanell Khosrowabadi and Jonathan Hyman

On December 4, 2017 Galatea Jewelry (“Galatea” or “Plaintiff”) filed a copyright infringement suit in the District Court for the Central District of California against the well-known crystal jewelry producer and retailer Swarovski North America Limited and its related entities, Swarovski Retail Ventures Ltd., Swarovski Digital Business USA Inc., and Swarovski Crystallized LLC (collectively, “Swarovski”).

Unlicensed Use of a Festival Name May Result in a Not-So-Festive Trademark Lawsuit

November 6, 2017 Ian W. Gillies and Diana E. Wade

Music festivals, film festivals, food festivals….festivals are popular venues for entertainment and each festival strives to offer the consumer a unique experience. Of course, at most festivals, clothes must be (or should be) worn, and festival-goers are a ready market for apparel retailers. However, retailers should be aware of one aspect of trademark law that can put a damper on the festivity: claims of false association, sponsorship, endorsement, or license.


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