Knobbe/Martens: Intellectual Property Law

Susan M. Natland

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What the *TM*?!?! The Disparagement Clause has been Bleeped

July 24, 2017 Loni Morrow, Vicki Nee and Susan Natland

Trademark law is an important form of protection for the fashion and beauty industry.  It protects both brand owners and consumers by regulating the registration of brands, or source identifiers, of fashion and beauty products.  Historically, it has been difficult to federally register marks that might be deemed “offensive” to others because the Lanham Act, the federal statute governing trademarks, includes a ban against registering marks that are immoral, scandalous, or disparaging.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has been inconsistent in its application of the statute over the years.  

The Top Hits: Fashion Cases with a Big Impact

Over the last year, there have been some significant trademark and copyright cases in the fashion industry. Below are summaries of recent cases all brand owners should know and understand.  These cases touch on important topics in trademark and copyright, including: copyrightability of surface decorations/designs on clothing or other useful articles, parody defense, punitive damages in trademark cases, tackling secondary meaning challenges in the ITC, and trademark registrability of edgy or offensive terms.

No Love for I ♥ DC

November 29, 2016 Susan M. Natland and Jonathan Menkes

In a case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”), the Board cancelled and abandoned the trademark registration and trademark application for the I ♥ DC marks owned by an individual, Jonathan A. Chien ("Chien") on the ground that the marks do not function as a trademark.

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