Is Marilyn Monroe Generic?

Marilyn Monroe was—and continues to be—one of the most iconic actresses in the world. And while there is no doubt that Marilyn Monroe is a household name, is it possible that her name has become too well-known? Apparently so. On March 13, 2017, Judge Katherine Polk Failla of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) issued a ruling that permits a counterclaim to cancel Marilyn Monroe’s trademarks.. Read More

Disparaging Trademarks and Free Speech – Will the Supreme Court Strike Down the Disparagement Clause?

15 U.S.C. 1052(a) and its validity was examined in Lee v. Tam. The question is, will the Supreme Court strike it down? The statute in question is the “disparagement provision” of the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act, which prohibits the registration of any mark that “may disparage persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” Registration of a trademark provides nationwide protection against others from using the name. In 2011,.. Read More

Trademark Litigation in the Shadow of B&B Hardware

In 2015, the Supreme Court decided a trademark dispute, B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis, Indus. However, in the light of more public trademark cases, such as the Washington Redskins trademark cancelation, the decision has not received much press. In many respects, this is not terribly surprising. B&B Hardware decided a very narrow issue of trademark litigation procedure. However, the consequences will be dramatic for litigants going forward. B&B Hardware was an incredibly drawn-out.. Read More

Courts Split Over Fourth Circuit’s New False Advertising Standard

This blog post discusses the impact of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling regarding “literally false” advertising claims. The case is In re GNC Corp., 789 F.3d 505 (2015). An earlier blog post describing the facts of the case, as well as the merits of the Fourth Circuit’s decision, can be found here.   Consider the following scenario. Your company has been manufacturing a line of supplements for over a decade, and the bottle lists.. Read More

Trademark Law and the Brilliance of “Dumb Starbucks”

A typical comedian would not devote an episode of his TV show to issues of trademark law, but Nathan Fielder is not a typical comedian. Most people in the U.S. familiar with the Canadian comedian’s work know him primarily from his Comedy Central TV show, “Nathan for You.” With his deadpan humor and impeccable delivery, it is hard to understand why Fielder is not more widely known. However, his relative obscurity lends itself.. Read More

Truth and TriFlex: The Fourth Circuit’s Ruling Regarding “Literally False” Advertising Claims

This blog post discusses the Fourth Circuit’s ruling regarding “literally false” advertising claims. The case is In re GNC Corp., 789 F.3d 505 (2015). I. Factual Background GNC, a national nutritional products retailer, has manufactured and sold a line of joint health supplements for years. These products, which contain glucosamine and chondroitin compounds, are marketed collectively under the “TriFlex” brand. The TriFlex product label represents that the supplements “promote[] joint mobility & flexibility,”.. Read More

Video Game Content and the Law

On July 6, 2016, the American population was swept in a wave of nostalgia that redefined the gaming market. Across American cities, strangers came together to play Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game. The game quickly becoming the most downloaded app from the Apple App Store ever. Pokémon Go introduced players to augmented reality gaming. Partnering with Google Maps, Pokémon Go incorporated real world streets, parks, and landmarks into the virtual gaming world.. Read More

Trademarks – Is There a Monopoly on Color in the Fashion Industry?

Walking around New York City, it’s not too difficult to recognize designer heels due to their unique designs. In particular, Christian Louboutin’s red soles have become a brand on its own. Christian Louboutin designs and markets high-fashioned footwear, leather goods, and accessories. Since 1992, the outsoles of the Louboutin shoes have been painted in lacquered red, giving them the vibrant look that so many women have fallen in love with and have come.. Read More

Supreme Court to Review the Ban on Registering Disparaging Trademarks

Under Section 2 the Lanham Act of 1946, the United States Patent and Trademark Office can deny trademark registration to any mark that “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage. . .persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” 15 USCS § 1052 (1946). While one is free to use any disparaging, scandalous or immoral mark as a signifier,.. Read More

The Potential Implications of the Instagram Regram

Instagram has become one of the most widely used social networking applications today. Its interface is based entirely off of user-generated content by allowing its users to share photos, videos, and network with other members either publicly or privately on the application. As of June 2016, the mobile photo-sharing network has reached 500 million monthly active users, meaning that a whopping 20% of all Internet users use Instagram. Users post both their own.. Read More