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.
A winery has filed a notice of opposition against BuzzFeed Inc.'s trademark application for Wordy Wine, a wine brand allowing purchases to customize the label. Kalaris v. BuzzFeed Inc., No. 91238653 (T.T.A.B., filed December 29, 2017). Although the words “Wordy Wine” do not appear on the purchaser’s custom label, Axios Napa Valley Wines alleges the term is nearly identical to the mark for its line of “Worthy” wines.
Sazerac Brands has filed a notice of opposition to ROSC Global's application to trademark “St. Paddy’s Brigade” for agave liquor, arguing that consumers are likely to confuse the mark with Sazerac’s “Paddy” line of Irish whiskies. Sazerac Brands LLC v. ROSC Global, LLC, No. 91237863 (T.T.A.B., filed November 16, 2017). ROSC Global applied for the mark in May 2017, while Sazerac asserts the company and its predecessors-in-interest have used the “Paddy” marks for alcoholic beverages since 1927.
Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. has filed a lawsuit in North Carolina federal court appealing a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruling that found the term “Pretzel Crisps” to be generic, arguing that TTAB “failed to consider all the evidence of the public’s perception of the Pretzel Crisps brand, despite clear direction from the Federal Circuit to do so.” Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. v. Frito-Lay N. Am., Inc., No. 17-0652 (W.D.N.C., filed November 6, 2017). TTAB initially deemed “pretzel crisps” generic after Frito-Lay opposed Snyder's-Lance’s application for a trademark; that decision was vacated by the Federal Circuit and remanded for reconsideration. Snyder's-Lance argues that during seven years of litigation, its Pretzel Crisps brand has become a market leader and is now the “number one product in the entire ‘deli cracker’ section in which it principally competes." The complaint also asserts that “both Frito-Lay and the TTAB panel agreed that ‘pretzel crackers’ generically and appropriately…
Candy company Sugarfina has filed a lawsuit alleging that Sweitzer LLC copied its “innovative, distinctive, and elegant product and packaging” as well as its "types of candy" and “protectable names.” Sugarfina, Inc. v. Sweitzer LLC, No. 17-7950 (C.D. Cal., filed October 31, 2017). Sugarfina asserts that it has approximately 140 lines of candy, presented in “museum-quality Lucite that emphasizes the artisanal and rarefied quality of a gourmet small-portion tasting experience,” and that Sweitzer copied the “size, shape, color or color combinations, texture, graphics and sales techniques” in its candy packaging and store designs. Claiming trade-dress infringement under the Lanham Act, federal and common law trademark infringement, unfair business practices, patent and copyright infringement, Sugarfina seeks damages, corrective advertising, accounting, restitution and attorney’s fees. Sugarfina filed a similar infringement claim against Sweet Pete's in June 2017.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has affirmed a refusal to register microbrewery 8-Bit Aleworks' application for a trademark despite an agreement between the company and 8bit Brewing Company specifying that 8bit did not object to the use. In re 8-Brewing LLC, No. 86760527 (T.T.A.B., entered October 30, 2017). The court found the consent agreement to be ambiguous and confusing as to which marks were covered by the agreement and vague as to how trade dress and packaging would distinguish the products. Further, the agreement failed to demonstrate how the companies' trade channels were different. Accordingly, the court held that “the shortcomings in the consent agreement are such that consumer confusion remains likely” and affirmed the refusal to register the mark.
Green Crush, a retailer selling juice, smoothie and aguas frescas beverages, has filed a lawsuit alleging that a former Green Crush manager and a former contractor engaged in corporate espionage, asserting that they used the chain’s proprietary information and infringed its trademarks and trade dress to start a competing company. Green Crush, LLC v. Paradise Splash 1, Inc., No. 17-1856 (C.D. Cal., filed October 23, 2017). The complaint alleges that the manager frequently asked senior Green Crush employees about “distribution operations, specific equipment, detailed drink ingredients, the design, placement, setting and layout of drink containers and cups, and the process and recipes used” before leaving to start a competing juice store. Further, Green Crush argues, the manager and contractor solicited Green Crush employees to work for them; allegedly, some of those employees asked “if the store under construction was a [Green Crush] store because it looked just like one.” Seeking…
A Texas appeals court has held that Mark Anthony Brewing cannot produce and label a house-brand beer for TGI Friday’s restaurants because state law prohibits “overlapping” relationships among alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Comm’n v. Mark Anthony Brewing, Inc., No. 16-0039 (Texas Ct. App., entered October 13, 2017). The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) rejected Mark Anthony Brewing's application for approval of the beer labels, which it created as part of a licensing agreement with TGI Friday's, on the grounds that Texas’ “tied-house” statutes prohibit such business relationships. Specifically, TABC found, the agreement violated the part of the administrative code providing that “[n]o application for a label shall be approved which indicates by any statement, design, device, or representation that the malt beverage is a special or private brand brewed or bottled for, or that includes the name, trade name, or trademark of any retailer permittee or…
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Enterprises, which owns trademarks on the phrase “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere" and several variations, has challenged The Veteran Beverage Company's application to register "It’s 1700 Hours Somewhere.” Margaritaville Enters. v. Veteran Beverage Co., No. 91236809 (T.T.A.B., filed September 22, 2017). The notice alleges that the trademark application is for beer, which is closely related to Margaritaville’s beverage and bar services marks, and that the only difference is that it shows 5:00 p.m. in military time.