A Sad Day for Happy-Talk

In a highly anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States recently held that the disparagement clause of federal trademark law violates the First Amendment. This disparagement clause refused federal trademark registration for trademarks that are likely to disparage people, institutions, or beliefs. All eight participating justices agreed that…
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Who’s First in Trademark

In the United States, trademark rights generally go to the first to use a mark in commerce as opposed to the first to file a mark with the trademark office. But what does that really mean? A recent trademark dispute case, Nexsan v. EMC, made headlines because it seemed to…
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Flummoxed By Fame – Well-Known Marks & Flanax

The “well-known marks” doctrine (also known as the “famous marks” doctrine), protects a trademark in a country where it has never been used, so long as the mark enjoys fame and renown sufficient to cross borders. We previously discussed the well-known marks principle and the fact that U.S. courts disagree about its application in…
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Little Pet Shop, Big Right of Publicity Problem

When Hasbro introduced a hamster named “Harris Faulkner” to its “Littlest Pet Shop” line of animal character toys, it drew a multi-million dollar lawsuit from real-life television journalist Harris Faulkner. The complaint, filed in New Jersey, included claims for violation of the right of publicity under New Jersey common law…
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Dilution of Famous Trademarks

Part 1 of this series about famous marks discussed the well-known marks doctrine. This post discusses trademark dilution. Famous Brands and Dilution Owners of famous marks can prevent others from using marks that “dilute” the famous mark under federal law. See 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c). Prior to 1996, trademark owners relied on…
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Trademark Tools and the Price of “Fame”

Everyone may have his or her fifteen minutes, but there’s always a price to pay for fame. For brand owners, fame brings special challenges as it brings imitators, fans, and social commentary. This is the first in a series of posts about trademark law tools that are specific to famous…
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