Geekview: Cheeky Coverage of Recent Intellectual Property News

Posted by | January 06, 2013 | Geekview IP recap | No Comments

LawyerFinder lawsuit ludicrousness.

Do you wonder if the LawyerFinder.com owners James and Laurie Williams found their trademark counsel through their website? The Williams have been operating their LawyerFinder.com website since at least as early as May 31, 1996, according to their most recent trademark application, which was refused based on registration of the same mark to the Columbus Bar Association, which claims to have used the LaywerFinder.com mark since at least as early as September 20, 2010. Although Columbus conquered the   USPTO, the U.S. recognizes common law (use-based) trademark rights and the first to use (not the first to register) gets the bounty in this land. So the Williams sued the Columbus Bar seeking infringing profits, attorneys’ fees and costs and punitive damages, along with cancellation of the Bar’s service mark registrations. To win, the Williams must prove not only that they were first to use LawyerFinder.com, but more importantly that LawyerFinder functions as a brand. If they can do that, then Columbus will have to retreat, but probably not before ponying up some dough, though less dough than Hostess will command . . .

Hostess horror soon shall end & fat filled fluffiness will come again.

Hostess claims unions held it hostage, while HuffPost insinuates that’s hogwash (here). Either way, Hostess Brands, Inc. is no more and Ho Hos are on hold. For Now.  Fortunately, a well-heeled bimbo appears to be coming to the rescue and Hostess’s fluff soon will froth again. Grupo Bimbo is the most likely purchaser of some of the iconic Hostess brands (Twinkie, anyone?). Of the 272 U.S. trademark registrations and applications in Hostess’s name, 247 remain LIVE, which is pretty impressive since most companies file far more applications than they end up maintaining. Of the LIVE Hostess USPTO records, 7 are pending applications and the other 240 are registered marks. The HOSTESS brand itself initially was registered in 1919 for bread, biscuits & cakes. Bread & biscuits have since been removed from this registration. Hostess products have been removed from our grocery shelves. And Apple’s false advertising claims have been removed from its case against Amazon . . .

Amazon takes a bite out of Apple’s crazy case.

App store absurdity continues as Amazon avenges itself against Apple. Behemoths battling it out while hanging in the balance lies the app store. Or is it the App Store? That depends, of course. Is an app store the thing itself? Or is App Store a brand? And if App Store is a brand, then WTF does anyone but Apple call the thing itself? Simply put, if an app store is a thing — a store where mobile apps are sold — Amazon wins. If App Store is a brand, Apple wins. For now, Amazon is winning. Apple filed suit for trademark infringement & dilution, as well as false advertising and unfair competition back in 2011. Earlier this month the court sided with Amazon, tossing out Apple’s false advertising claim because Apple failed to identify a single false statement (express or implied) that Amazon made about its app store which actually deceived people. Dumped Ding Dongs and aggressive Apples have nothin’ on mean peanut butter . . .

It is SPAMIPPY? SKIPPAM? SPAMSKIPPY?

Are Skippy & SPAM destined to become a sweet & salty treat? Hormel might be betting on it. Buzz of its Hormel’s $700mm acquisition of Skippy brand peanut butter recently coated the pages of the internet. Though SPAM is by far its most famous brand, Hormel actually owns 30+ packaged food brands and countless sub-brands (not to mention 339 LIVE USPTO trademark records). Apparently, despite SPAM’s iconic nature, Skippy has made greater inroads into the Chinese market (go figure!) and Hormel’s acquisition strategically targets the company’s growth in that region. As I recently learned from my friend Athol Foden at Brighter Naming, the Skippy brand has a sullied history with Percy Crosby’s cartoon character Skippy, as detailed on Skippy.com. Regardless of its past, Skippy is likely to stick around under the Hormel family of brands.

For those of us with IP at heart, 2013 is off to a delicious start.


About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.