The Traklight Blog

Explore the world of intangible assets and IP with guest blogs, business owner interviews, and more.

Facebook Using Trademark To Shut Down Critics

You've probably heard of the "Streisand effect" or at at least familiar with the general principle of the thing: the idea that, by trying to shut something down to avoid bringing attention to it, you are in fact bringing the very attention that you hoped to avoid. There's sense to the idea, not that most of us will ever find ourselves the subject of much attention or scrutiny. And yet, many that should know better fail to learn the important lesson that it's often better to simply let things go rather than given them oxygen.

Read More

Artist Faces Opposition From Hugo Boss Over Trademark

Despite what we teach our children, and what we would like to believe ourselves, it seems that bullying really does work to the benefit of the bully and to the detriment of those targeted. It's unpleasant to think about, surely, but how else are we to describe a state of affairs in which might alone makes right? Other conceptions of morals or ethics seem outdated when faced with this raw exercise of power unchecked by anything but their own limited constraints.

Read More

Monster Energy Pressures Video Game Creator Into Renaming Title

Finding a great name for your products is hard enough, so when you land upon the right one, you want to do everything you can to hold onto it. After all, good names help to sell products, and bad ones can similarly dissuade consumers, unfairly or not. Branding does matter, and it does work, else it wouldn't continue to exist as it does. So when a trademark case forces a company to rebrand or alter a product name, the cost is in more than the dollars spend in implementing those changes but in the damage possibly done to your public perception.

Read More

McDonald's Takes Aim At Australian Chain's "Big Jack" Burger

What can be said for fast food is that, for all the franchises and chains that exist, there are only but a few options on offer, and that the distinction is in the differentiation. In that way, fast food isn't all that different from any other industry; many make similar products, and where they get the edge is in their own "special sauce" that puts them above the rest, be it process or branding or small but distinct differences. It's that "special sauce" that needs to be defended, and the franchise that gave us "special sauce" itself is looking to maintain its hold on branding built over decades.

Read More

Costco Wins Appeal of Trademark Case Brought By Tiffany & Co.

What happens when a product reaches a level of ubiquity so prevalent that it becomes representative of both itself and its competitors, regardless of origin or manufacturer? Take for example Coca Cola: in certain areas of the country, "a Coke" is a catch-all term for any soft drink, even though that particular beverage is but one of many available to consumers. As trademarks go, however, Coca Cola has no grounds to take any sort of action against any of its competitors, because none are selling their drinks using the Coke name; rather, it's a term that has grown organically and is used colloquially. What happens when such terms enter both the lexicon and marketing materials?

Read More

Fortnite Creators Sued For Trademark Infringement Over Map

I've written previously about the relatively recent problem of video games reproducing real-life products and places and the potential for trademark infringement, at least in the minds of those companies who find their products in games that seek to replicate facsimile of the world as we know it. Not every game seeks to do that, however; in fact, most games use the technology available to create something new entirely, often recognizable as something that can only exist in the digital sphere. That doesn't seem to mean that trademark disputes won't port into this new realm, apparently.

Read More

Instagram Facing Trademark Lawsuit Over New Reels Feature

Innovation is what spurs tech companies to the top of the proverbial pile, but, once there, some seem to lose that innovative spirit, relying instead upon their accrued power to stay atop the marketplace. Instead of coming up with new ideas, it's easier to simply buy up the innovative companies out there, or perhaps just copy the innovation you see. At the risk of generalization, Big Tech can get lazy, and that laziness can result in problems if they're not careful about what they do.

Read More

Prepear's Fortunes Go Pear-Shaped With Apple Trademark Objections

What right does any company have over names that are similar only due to that company's sheer size and ubiquity? It's true that certain brands can be evoked not only by their name and logo, but by an entire subcategory of similar designs and conventions, but should that be the case, from a legal perspective? Maybe it speaks poorly of our regulatory bodies that said companies are allowed to lay claim to names and marks considered too similar, and that such matters are ultimately decided by those companies and their resources — resources that smaller businesses deemed to be infringing cannot possibly match in a legal battle.

Read More

Taylor Swift Alters Logo to Avoid Trademark Infringement

In cases of infringement, intent is irrelevant to the substantive facts of a case. Either something infringes upon a copyright or trademark or patent, or it doesn't; whether the accused meant to do it or not changes nothing. Still, it probably matters to our ideas about justice and recompense as to whether intent existed or not. We're far more likely to be forgiving of a careless mistake made without malice than instances of deliberate theft, and perhaps more likely to be considerate of others' IP if we've had our own misappropriated.

Read More

Ferrari Loses Its Trademark Rights To Iconic Car

For some products, form matters as much as function, if not more so. With something like, say, your lawnmower, the aesthetics aren't so important as long as it performs the work of cutting your grass. But your car? Your car says something about you, given how much you might be investing in it. And it says something about the company that made it, which is why some car makers have labored for decades towards mastery of the form as well as the mechanics, and have sough to protect the designs they've made iconic.

Read More

Will Trademarks Derail Washington's Name Change?

Should we applaud someone for doing the right thing, even if it took far too long for them to do it? That's the question many people might have upon the news that the NFL's Washington franchise has decided to "retire" their offensive nickname in favor of a new one. While the impetus for the change was largely the potential of losing sponsor dollars rather than responding to social pressures or basic notions of civility, the end result is one that most feel is long overdue, given that the campaign to change the name predates the Black Lives Matter and related movements considerably. But while the decision to change the name may have been easy in this particular moment, the actual process may prove to be harder.

Read More

Can You Trademark An Area Code?

Plenty of small businesses use locality in creating a brand for their business. Here in the greater Phoenix area, there are no shortage of companies that make use of "Phoenix" or "valley" or "Camelback" or some other identifier of the region in their name, and no one bats an eye; after all, the name simply locates the business in the world. Then again, none of those companies have likely tried to trademark "Phoenix" knowing that such an effort would be entirely futile?

Read More

Country Band And Blues Singer Dispute Right to "Lady A" Name

Change is necessary if we hope to grow, if recent events have taught us anything, but change can at times be difficult for practical and commercial reasons. Names are freighted with meaning and sown into our consciousness with time and repetition, and it's impossible to simply remove negative connotations while keeping the positives, and thus names have to be changed entirely. It's difficult for some, surely, but necessary to move forward, although the growth process might not be aided by further mistakes made while trying to change.

Read More

Call of Duty Wins Case Over Trademark Use on First Amendment Grounds

Verisimilitude in video games is a relatively new issue, and as seen in the case brought by Lebron James' tattoo artist against NBA2K, it brings with it a host of new issues about depiction and representations in the medium. Trademark or copyright aren't much of a concern in 8- or 16-bit formats, but design and computing power is now such that photorealistic depictions of actual items isn't just possible, it's expected in modern gaming, although many choose to go the route of generic names and brands within games to avoid any legal complications.

Read More

UFC Trademarks UFSEA, With An Assist From John Oliver

The pandemic has forced nearly every business that relies upon having multiple people in a single location to rethink their models in a way that would allow them to continue operating with as little contact between people as possible. But what if your business is premised upon thousands of people gathering together in one location to watch an event, like sports leagues?

Read More

In-N-Out Presses Trademark Case in Australia, Without Actual Restaurants

In a world that is globally connected, one thing that can remain regional and provincial is restaurants, or, given the conglomerated nature of everything today, restaurant chains. Each region of the country has its own chains that denizens swear by, and in moving west in early-2014, I became privy to In-N-Out Burger, which has no locations further east than Texas. Its reputation preceded it, and while the food is worth the wait you're inevitably forced to endure, the overheated hype from proselytizers made it impossible to live up to those outsized expectations. Nevertheless, you understand the populatity, and the brand that In-N-Out has built over decades.

Read More

Marvel Faces Trademark Fight Over WandaVision Series

We all remember movie theaters, yes? Building with large, dark rooms where we gathered to watch films together, back when such groupings weren't inadvisable? At the point where theaters were a going concern, superhero movies were the dominant storytelling form of the decade, and that success begat more and more franchises, folding in secondary and tertiary characters from the canon. That expansion not only tested audiences' appetite for super-powered fare but eventually the limits of branding.

Read More

Netflix's Space Force is Winning The Trademark Race

When reality becomes stranger than fiction, one would think that scripted television would tend to suffer. Reading about the creation of the Space Force certainly felt like living inside fiction when the news broke a couple years ago, and so when the announcement of a TV show of the same name came later, it was hard to imagine how it could be any stranger or funnier than its real-world counterpart.

Read More

National Geographic Wins Trademark Case Over "Untamed" Documentary

When it comes to products, names mean a lot, as do descriptors; some of the best brands are able to work descriptions into the name so as to leave no ambiguity as to what you're getting. The abstract or esoteric works for books that are looking to win awards, but is far less useful to other work that requires an audience to understand what is being offered so they can determine if they want to watch it. Within that rubric, creators are generally limited in how to describe any film or show; as much as we wish our vocabulary was more expansive, we generally confine ourselves to a few terms to describe certain ideas and concepts, and so it becomes hard for any creator to claim ownership over those terms.

Read More

Amazon Wins Trademark Duspute Over Third Party Infringement

Now more than ever we are made aware of our reliance upon Amazon in providing us with what we want and need, and for the duration of our current crisis questions about wages and hours for warehouse workers or the sheer dominance of the online retailer and whether that's good for anybody but Amazon become secondary to the urgent demand to get things without having to leave our homes. Seamless ordering and touchless delivery are vital at the moment, and Amazon has perfected the process of letting people order just about anything over the past decade. Who's actually providing those goods is another question, and it's at the center of a recent trademark case.

Read More