Tag Archives trademark

A federal court in Illinois has denied summary judgment to both parties involved in a trademark dispute over the use of “pizza puffs,” finding that a reasonable jury could rule for either on the question of whether the term is generic. Illinois Tamale Co. v. El-Greg, Inc., No. 16-5387 (N.D. Ill., entered March 29, 2018). Illinois Tamale Co. alleges that El-Greg Inc.’s products infringe trademark and trade dress rights held since 1976. The court also refused Illinois Tamale’s motion for summary judgment on El-Greg’s fair-use defense, finding that a reasonable jury could find in favor of either party on each element of the defense.

American Dairy Queen Corp. has filed a lawsuit challenging W.B. Mason Co.'s application for a “Blizzard” trademark for its bottled water. Am. Dairy Queen Corp. v. W.B. Mason Co., Inc., No. 18-0693 (D. Minn., filed March 12, 2018). Dairy Queen alleges that it trademarked “Blizzard” for milkshakes in 1946 and has extended the mark to ice milk, ice cream, soft serve, machinery and restaurant services. The complaint asserts that the Blizzard marks are “widely recognized by the general consuming public of the United States as a designation of source of Dairy Queen’s goods and services.” Alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition by false designation, trademark dilution, unfair competition and violation of Minnesota’s deceptive trade practices law, Dairy Queen seeks an injunction barring W.B. Mason from using the Blizzard mark, destruction of packaging and advertising materials, award of profits generated from use of the infringing mark and attorney’s fees.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has ruled that Pan American Properties Corp. cannot register “White Sangriiia” as a trademark because both terms, as well as their combination, are “merely descriptive.” In re Pan American Props., Corp., No. 86556214 (T.T.A.B., entered February 26, 2018). TTAB also rejected the company’s argument that the term was “fanciful or suggestive.” Although Pan American Properties referred to its previous registration of the “fanciful” term “Gasolina Sangriiia” for prepared cocktails in its appeal, TTAB noted that neither the company nor the examining attorney included the registration in the application record before the appeal was filed, and TTAB refused to take judicial notice of “registrations residing in the Office.” Finally, TTAB found insufficient evidence to prove the term “sangriiia” had acquired distinctiveness; even if Pan American Properties had provided enough evidence to prove five years of sales, the board held, that period is not long enough…

Kosher Supervision Services Inc. (Kof-K) has filed a complaint alleging Original Gourmet Food Co. used the “Kof-K” kosher certification mark on its product without authorization, alleging the snack maker’s action was “intentional and willful use of a counterfeit of the Kof-K mark.” Kosher Supervision Servs. v. Original Gourmet Food Co., No. 18-2487 (D.N.J., filed February 22, 2018). Kof-K asserts that it never contracted with Original Gourmet, approved or certified any of its products as kosher, or granted permission for its use of the certification mark. Alleging trademark infringement, false designation of origin, dilution of famous mark, unfair competition, Kof-K seeks injunctive relief, damages and a finding that the case is “exceptional” to permit an award of attorney’s fees.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has denied Hy-Vee Inc.'s application to register the “Peaceful Piranha” mark for a line of snack foods, deeming the mark to be too similar to the mark for an existing line of “Piraña” snack foods. In re Hy-Vee, Inc., No., 87120774 (T.T.A.B., entered February 6, 2018). Finding “piranha” to be the dominant portion of the mark, the board found the term likely to confuse consumers unfamiliar with Spanish because they may read the pronunciation of the terms as identical. Further, consumers who understand Spanish may be confused because they would understand the cognate terms as a reference to the fish. Although Hy-Vee argued that “peaceful” and “piranha” are counterintuitive, creating an entirely different connotation with no association to “vicious” piranha fish, the board found the term “peaceful” was not likely to distinguish the marks because “it would merely indicate an atypical piranha, possibly for use…

American Beverage Corp., which sells alcohol cocktails under the “Darty” mark, has filed a notice of opposition to Boston Beer Co.’s application for a “Day Party” mark for beer. Am. Bev. Corp. v. Boston Beer Corp., No. 91239170 (T.T.A.B., notice filed January 29, 2018). The notice asserts that the "colloquial meaning of DARTY is 'Day Party.'" American Beverage claims priority in filing and first use date, and the notice alleges that the goods are so similar as to cause consumer confusion about their source.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has vacated and remanded a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Whole Foods Market Inc. in a trademark infringement case related to the company’s “Eat Right America” promotion. Eat Right Foods Ltd. v. Whole Foods Mkt., Inc., No. 15-35524 (9th Cir., entered January 29, 2018). Plaintiff Eat Right Foods (ERF), a New Zealand-based maker of organic foods, registered U.S. marks for “EatRight” and “Eat Right” in 2001 and 2003; ERF has also sold a line of gluten-free cookies to Whole Foods. In 2009, Whole Foods contracted with Nutritional Excellence, LLC, which previously did business as “Eat Right America,” to use a food-scoring system to advertise the nutritional value of products to shoppers. In early 2010, an ERF executive discovered Whole Foods using an “Eat Right America” promotion and contacted Whole Foods to suggest the grocery buy its brand…

A California federal court has refused to dismiss a trademark infringement and right of publicity lawsuit filed by the estate of Thelonious Monk against a craft brewery selling “Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale,” finding the estate sufficiently pleaded all causes of action. Monk v. North Coast Brewing Co., No. 17-5015 (N.D. Cal., entered January 31, 2018). Monk’s son had agreed to allow North Coast Brewing Co. to use the musician’s name, likeness and image on the ale in exchange for the brewery’s donation of a portion of the profits to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, but he allegedly revoked his consent because the brewer extended the use to apparel and other merchandise. The court found plausible that the estate had a protectable interest in Monk’s name, image and likeness and that it had alleged enough facts to support a possible finding of likelihood of confusion. Although it noted…

A California federal jury has awarded $710,001 to Grumpy Cat Ltd., which had alleged that a beverage company infringed its copyright and trademarks. Grumpy Cat Ltd. v. Grenade Beverage LLC, No. 15-2063 (C.D. Cal., verdict entered January 23, 2018). The dispute arose after Grumpy Cat licensed its trademark to Grenade  Beverage LLC for a line of iced-coffee products; Grumpy Cat filed suit when it learned that Grenade was also using Grumpy Cat’s likeness on coffee products and apparel—which fell outside the scope of the companies' agreement—and had registered the domain name grumpycat.com. The jury awarded Grumpy Cat $1 for breach of contract and $710,000 for copyright and trademark violations. The parties agreed before trial that the court would rule on the cybersquatting and accounting claims as well as Grenade’s counterclaims for declaratory relief for ownership and non-infringement of trademark, copyright and domain name.

Iceland has filed a notice of opposition to a trademark application filed by an Ecuadorean company for use of the mark “I ' CELAND” for vodka, arguing that consumers will be confused as to the origin of the product, which features a label with images of snow-capped mountains and the term “Iceland Vodka.” Republic of Iceland, Ministry for Foreign Affairs v. Cosmica Cia. Ltda., No. 91239021 (T.T.A.B., notice filed January 17, 2018). Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs coordinates the exports of Icelandic businesses and alleges it is responsible for protecting the “Iceland” mark, which has been used for various Icelandic alcohol products, including vodka. Iceland registered its mark with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in 2009.

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