July 23, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Imagine a world where legions of humans are inflicted with a terrible virus that turns them into flash-eating monsters. Zombie fans were given reason to rejoice when Paramount Pictures filed trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the enormously popular World War Z concept for use with video games. Evidently, gamers will be treated to games based on the wildly popular Zombie books by Max Brooks. Brooks’ original novel, The Zombie Survival Guide, was released in 2003 and quickly became a cult classic. The apocalyptic author’s second zombie novel, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, was released to critical acclaim in 2006 with movie rights quickly purchased in 2007.

The World War Z trademarks were originally filed back in May, 2011 for use on mugs, beverage glassware, waste baskets, figurines, key chains, statutes, various types of apparel, masks, Halloween costumes, action figures, board games and toy model hobby craft kits. The most recent applications, quite possibly in anticipation of the movie being released in June 2013, were filed July 10th. The trademark applications were filed in order to secure the trademarks for use with various video game platforms. The USPTO website further reveals that the World War Z trademarks were intended for use with “entertainment services, namely, providing online electronic games, downloadable electronic game programs, electronic game software for handheld electronic devices, video game cartridges and discs”.

Undoubtedly, a deluge of World War Z products will hit the market in the summer of 2013 when the movie is released. The movie will star Brad Pitt.

July 11, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – In a recent dispute over Google’s AdWord policy, the owners of Cybersitter are suing Google and Net Nanny for trademark infringement. Cybersitter, specializing in adult content blocking software, is alleging that its rival Net Nanny paid Google to show Net Nanny ads any time Google users conducted searches for “Cybersitter”. Cybersitter argues that the ad copy for Net Nanny sometimes included its name and slogan “Protect you child with #1 rated Cybersitter software”. According to paperwork filed in court, Cybersitter insists that this type of subterfuge on the part of Google amounts to trademark infringement.

Cybersitter lists both Google and Net Nanny as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles in U.S. District Court, Central District of California. The court documents allege that both defendants “intentionally and wrongfully used bait and switch strategies to confuse consumers into purchasing a competing product.” However, it is important to note that Cybersitter did not allege in its court documents that Google had been contacted about the Net Nanny ads. Experts surmise that the case may not have much chance for success against Google, because the Internet search giant should have been given the opportunity to fix the problem prior to litigation.

Google representatives claim that the case is without merit and vow to clear Google’s reputation in court. In the past, Google has successfully defended itself against similar lawsuits. Two such trademark infringement cases were won by Google, and the rest were withdrawn or settled. However, on April 4th, 2012, the Circuit Court of Appeals reversed one of the decisions that had been handed down in Google’s favor. At the district court level, Google had won a summary judgment against language learning software company, Rosetta Stone.

Similar to the Cybersitter case, searches for Rosetta Stone yielded results that directed consumers to a different company website and persuaded them to purchase products other than the Rosetta Stone learning programs. Consequently, Rosetta Stone alleged that Google’s AdWord policies confused consumers and infringed on its trademarks. The Appeals Court ruled that Rosetta Stone should have been allowed the opportunity for a trial to determine whether the AdWords policy had confused consumers by allowing the company’s trademarked name to trigger pay-per-click ads for a competitor.

Cybersitter is owned by Solid Oak Software, located in Santa Barbara, California. Net Nanny is owned by ContentWatch, an Internet management solutions company, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both companies specialize in the latest Internet technology designed to assist in blocking adult content from computers used in schools, businesses and government offices. A decision on the Cybersitter, Google, Net Nanny case is expected to be handed down in the oncoming months and may result in a re-evaluation of Google’s AdWord policy.


July 6, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Athletic goods heavy weights Rawlings Sporting Goods and Wilson Sporting Goods are battling it out in a federal court over trademark infringement. The most recent competition between the two legendary sports equipment giants concerns the unauthorized use of Rawlings’ Gold Glove trademarks.

Wilson has allegedly been producing baseball gloves with gold-colored webbing and has been featuring them in promotional materials. According to court documents filed Thursday in St. Louis, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Philips has been featured in Wilson materials holding a Wilson baseball glove. The glove in itself is not controversial. However, the fact that the glove is resplendent with gold-colored webbing, stitching and lettering, is problematic. Court documents show assert that Brandon Phillips won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2011, but was later given a golden glove from Wilson that is confusingly similar to Rawlings’ trademarked Gold Glove.

Rawlings also claims that the Gold Glove is one of the most prestigious awards in baseball. Because of this prestige, Rawlings has trademarked the words “Rawlings Gold Glove Award”, “Gold Glove Award”, and the distinctive golden baseball glove image that makes the award instantly recognizable. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Rawlings initially filed the registration paperwork for its Gold Glove Award back in 1973. However, the St. Louis Sports purveyor has been giving out its famous Gold Glove Award since 1957 and has distributed 981 since the award’s inception.

Rawlings also gives winners a golden baseball glove with its unique golden stitching, webbing and markings. By giving out similar golden colored baseball gloves, Rawlings insists that Wilson is diluting the distinctiveness of its carefully constructed brand image and eroding the public’s exclusive association between the trademark and high quality Rawlings’ products. Furthermore, Rawlings asserts that Wilson’s use of a golden glove tarnishes the reputation of the trademarks and lessens the public’s capacity to identify and distinguish Rawlings’ goods and services. Rawlings is seeking a court order to prevent its competitor from producing, manufacturing, distributing or using its trademarks in promotional materials.

June 29, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Last week, Anheuser-Busch announced that it filed a trademark application for BNA which is the airport code for the Nashville Airport. Anheuser-Busch filed for “BNA” along with 41 other airport codes. However, Nashville winery BNA Wine Group insists that it has superior rights to the trademark “BNA” and filed before Anheuser-Busch. The fact that two companies plan to utilize the same trademark is not necessarily a problem in itself. However, because both parties intend to name alcoholic beverages after the airport code and distribute those products in the same area, it is anticipated that problems will ensue for one or both parties.

Although there is a chance that both groups could obtain rights to the trademark “BNA”, it is highly unlikely. Despite the fact that beer and wine are obviously two different beverages, both companies are in the business of selling alcohol and there is not a significant division between the core business and distribution of the two companies. Consequently, if Anheuser-Busch produced an alcoholic beverage with the same name as a wine produced by the BNA Wine Group, it would likely cause confusion with consumers and distributors. Such confusion is adequate grounds for USPTO denial of trademark registration for one or both parties.

Regardless of the potential confusion, It is likely that the USPTO will suspend action on the Anheuser-Busch trademark application until the registration for BNA Wine Group is complete.

Last year Anheuser-Busch also registered 14 area codes with the USPTO, including “615″, an area code in Nashville. The move was part of a plan to cash in on the popularity of locally labeled beers and microbrews produced by hometown breweries. As part of this plan, Anheuser purchased Goose Island Brewery in Chicago last year and noted tremendous success with its locally produced 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Anheuser-Busch anticipates the same success with the BNA labeled beer if and when it is allowed to register the trademark.

June 20, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Can a designer obtain trademark protection for a specific color used on the soles of its shoes? This question appears to be one step closer to finality after a recent decision was handed down by a French court against designer Christian Louboutin.

The case was initiated in 2008, but Louboutin did not exhaust all of its appeals against Spanish fashion designer Zara until this week. Louboutin had accused the Spanish designer of counterfeiting and unfair competition, claiming that red-soled shoes have been the signature trademark of its shoe collection for over twenty years.

This case is particularly interesting because of its implications for the ongoing battle in a New York Appeals Court between the famous shoe designer and its rival Yves Saint Laurent. Louboutin also sued its competitor Yves Saint Laurent in 2011 over what it considered a trademark infringement of the red sole on its shoes. The lower court rejected Louboutin’s request to stop the sale of YSL’s similarly colored shoes and denied a request for $1 million in damages. A decision has not yet been reached by the new panel of judges in the current appeal. However, Louboutin is relying on the same argument used by Tiffany & Co. in a recent lawsuit against one of its competitors for its trademark blue boxes. Tiffany won its trademark infringement case by showing that consumers recognized the blue box exclusively as that associated with the Tiffany & Co. brand. A decision by the New York Appeals court is highly anticipated by a number of designers who either currently use red on the soles of their shoes, or would like to incorporate the popular trend in their own footwear lines.

Louboutin quickly released a statement after the findings were handed down in its most current lawsuit. The Paris based company is anticipating that its competitors will see this latest decision as diminishing or eliminating its rights to the famous red sole on its shoes. However, Louboutin claims that it continues to own valued and enforceable trademark rights to its red sole trademark in France and the rest of the world. Louboutin also claims that other court decisions have recognized the strong association between Christian Louboutin and its red sole trademark. As such, Christian Louboutin insists that it will continue to enforce and protect its rights to its red sole trademark.

June 14, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Mag Instrument, the owners of a family of trademarks including “Mag-Lite”, has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Larson Electronics in federal court this week. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, alleges that Larson Electronics’ use of the Magnalight trademark infringes on Mag Instruments’ registered trademarks. In response, Larson Electronics argues that it has priority use of the Magnalight trademark, since it has been manufacturing and distributing the product since 1973. The Mag-Lite trademark was registered with the United States Patent Trademark Office in 1979. Mag-Lite is claiming that it registered its trademark prior to Magnalight and since the trademark is confusingly similar to the Mag-Lite trademark, Larson Electronics must cease and desist the use of the product name Magnalight.

According to the USPTO website, Larson Electronics filed an Application in November 2011 to protect the Magnalight trademark. However, State and federal laws dictate that the first user of a trademark generally has superior rights regardless of filing a trademark application. As such, generally speaking registration of a trademark with the USPTO does not trump the prior unregistered common law rights of a party using a trademark for a longer period of time. The rights of the senior user of a trademark can continue as long as the trademark is also used continuously, and are not erased simply because another user files registration paperwork.

Larson Electronics, based in Kemp Texas, is best known for its distribution of industrial and commercial grade lighting products. Magnalight flashlights and lighting products have been distributed in the U.S. and Canada for over 44 years. A hand-held light with a magnetic base, the lights were intended for portable use on a vehicle or other metal device, to provide a well-lit work area. Magnalight handheld portable lights are sold today across a wide spectrum of consumers, including many of the same customers that it sold to in 1973.

Headquartered in Ontario Canada, Mag Instrument considers itself a leader in the portable lighting products industry. Though Mag Instrument was founded in 1955, it was not incorporated until 1974. The company’s primary focus was creating flashlight products for the public safety sector. To that end, it’s well-known line of flashlight products were introduced in 1979 and quickly became best sellers.

June 11, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Larry, the blue bird Twitter mascot, has gone on a diet. Twitter has recently unveiled a new look for its trademarked blue bird logo that has some obvious changes as well as some not so noticeable changes.

The San Francisco based social media company took to Twitter to announce the change. Twitter’s creative director Doug Bowman tweeted, “Our new bird grows out of love for ornithology, design within creative constraints, and simple geometry. This bird is crafted purely from three sets of overlapping circles – similar to how your networks, interests, and ideas connect and intersect with peers and friends. Whether soaring high above the earth to take in a broad view, or flocking with other birds to achieve a common purpose, a bird in flight is the ultimate representation of freedom, hope and limitless possibility.”

The main differences in Twitter’s logo appear to be the following: the new bird appears to be leaner, the tuft on the top of the birds head is no longer there, the new bird is looking up rather than straight ahead, the wing of the bird is facing upward rather than downward, and the color blue is a darker shade.

Twitter appears to be flying high above many other social media sites with its 140 million active users, and is on its way to soaring as high as its competitor Facebook. According to Reuters, Twitter is rumored to be the next best company for an IPO and may follow in Facebook’s footsteps. It is estimated that this year Twitter will reach $260 million in revenue.

Just as many consumers can immediately recognize popular logos such as the Nike swoosh, the golden arches of McDonald’s, and the Microsoft Windows logo, Twitter is assured that its blue bird logo will be among this list as one of the most recognizable icons. A tweet posted on Twitter mentioned this goal by saying “from now on, this bird will be the universally recognizable symbol of Twitter,” and “there’s no longer a need for text, bubbled typefaces, or a lowercase ‘t’ to represent Twitter.”

June 6, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – In a lawsuit filed last Friday, the Obama Re-election Campaign Committee is suing website Demstore.com for selling merchandise utilizing its trademarked “O” logos and artwork. An identical lawsuit was filed in Chicago for similar Obama infringement issues in 2011.

The current lawsuit filed in Washington claims that the D.C. website, which primarily sells Obama election merchandise, is illegally selling products with two of its trademarked logos. One logo included in the lawsuit is the 2012 campaign logo utilizing the signature “O”. The other logo in question is what is commonly referred to as the “rising sun” logo, and includes a blue “O”, with red and white stripes at the bottom. The lawsuit against Demstore.com is asking for a court ordered injunction preventing the use of the logos, as well as damages.

In a world of websites that can appear and disappear practically overnight, trademark infringement can become a huge problem. Public figures can be particularly vulnerable since they are often widely recognizable and do not have legal teams in place to handle each and every infringement. In addition, the infringers are often hard to locate and even more difficult to bring into court.

Demstore.com is a democratic website owned by Steve Schwat. Schwat, who also owns Washington Promotions and Printing, registered Demstore.com and its company logo with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2003 and achieved registration in August 2007. The Maryland based company’s USPTO registration was granted for retail store services, mail order sales, online retail store services, online ordering, and retail store services that feature phone-in or online orders in fields of apparel, books, stickers, buttons, jewelry, magnets, flags, signs, house wares and balloons. The company claims that it has been creating and selling various democratic campaign materials since 1985. While the website is primarily geared toward the re-election of Obama, materials from the 2008 election are also being sold.

May 31, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – A judgment has been made in a case that began three years ago and as of last month saw the inside of a court room. In the trademark infringement case between Gucci and Guess a judge has awarded Gucci with damages totaling $4.66 million as well as an injunction against Guess from using three of the four alleged infringing trademarks.

Gucci initially claimed that Guess was infringing on its green and red striped logo, a “G-Square” stylized mark, “Quattro G”, and a “G” script logo. The alleged infringing trademarks were being used on products such as purses, wallets, belts and shoes. Gucci claimed that these items were far too similar and confusing consumers which in turn caused a decline in profits for the luxury brand.

Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in favor of Gucci although it was not awarded quite the amount of damages it had initially sought. Gucci was originally seeking damages of $120 million. After analyzing the damages, an expert stated that Gucci’s requested amount was “highly speculative” and therefore Judge Scheindlin stated that Gucci was not entitled to claims of damages that alleged the infringement caused harm to its brand. Also, Judge Scheindlin placed an injunction which prohibits Guess from producing three of the four alleged infringing trademarks. The trademark for the “G” script logo was excluded from the injunction.

In the opinion brief of the case Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote: “Over the past three years, the parties have put in countless hours and spent untold sums of money, all in the service of fashion–what Oscar Wilde aptly called ‘a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’ It is my hope that this ugliness will be limited to the runway and shopping floor, rather than spilling over into the courts.”

Guess’ CEO Paul Marciano stated “Overall, we are extremely satisfied and vindicated that this case should have never been filed”. Gucci, as of yet, has not offered a statement. This has not been the first nor will it be the last of lawsuits to come for the luxury brand. Gucci was founded in 1921 and has been known to protect its brand ever since.

May 23, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Los Angeles based D and D Marketing, Inc., doing business as T3 Leads, is being sued for trademark infringement for allegedly violating a San Antonio company’s trademark by using its name on various websites designed to generate business leads for other companies.

The trademark infringement complaint was filed by San Antonio-based USAA (United Services Automotive Association), a financial services company that provides banking, investing, and insurance services to individuals and families that serve, or served in the United states military. In its complaint, filed in a state district court in Bexar County, Texas, USAA claims that the infringing websites were responsible for generating leads that included the names and private financial information of consumers who had visited the sites to possibly obtain automobile insurance or financial services.

The same day that it filed its complaint, USAA also obtained a temporary restraining order to bar T3 Leads from using its name as any part of a domain name. Next week, a judge will decide whether the restraining order should actually become a temporary injunction.

USAA is alleging that T3 Leads is infringing its trademark by including the USAA name in several lead-generating websites, such as usaautoinsurancequotes.com, autoinsurancequotesusaa.com, payday-loans-usaa.com, and others. The websites were still active this week, however links to apply for a loan or to obtain insurance quotes had been disabled.

Paul Berry, a media relations executive for USAA, said in an email statement that “USAA is committed to protecting its reputation and ensuring that its members know when they are doing business with USAA, and that their personal information remains confidential.”

Operating in the field of “Internet affiliate marketing,” in which a merchant rewards affiliates for directing consumers to the merchant’s website to make a purchase, T3 Leads describes itself on its own website as the “premier Internet destination for quality leads and marketing opportunities” for web merchants and affiliates. The company’s CEO, Dmitry Fomichev, also named in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.

Besides allegedly infringing on USAA’s trademark by including it in domain names, T3 is also being accused of advertising the payday-loans-usaa.com website via a Twitter campaign.

Both Fomichev and D and D Marketing have been accused a trademark infringement before. Last summer, the entity was issued a permanent injunction barring it from using QuickClick or quickclickloans.com trademarks, after a Georgia company that operates the quickclickloans.com website sued it for trademark infringement. The parties reportedly reached an undisclosed settlement.

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