Trademark infringement: Do you fight back or pick a new name?

The threat of trademark infringement doesn't necessarily have to shut down your business or bury you under legal bills.  If you do not have much invested in the name, you may decide to just change your business name and pray you don't get sued for past infringement damages.

But if you get hit with a trademark infringement claim, do you have to give in?

A recent article in Forbes online magazine details one woman's ordeal with trademark infringement. It all started with a cease and desist letter explaining the various ways her business infringed on U.S. trademark rights.

Click on the link to read more about: Do you fight back or pick a new name...Trademark Infringement.

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How Trademark Infringement Can Shut Down Your Business

A trademark battle is being waged in federal court right now involving the National Football League (NFL), NFL Properties (NFLP), the New Orleans Saints, Liquid Ventures Inc., Logo Express Marketing Inc., Monogram Express, Storyville Apparel, and Fleurty Girl.who dat trademark

And the center of this suit is a Who Dat? Inc. They claim that all of these companies infringed against their trademark of the Who Dat? phrase.

Meanwhile the Saints claim it has owned the "Who Dat" trademark since 1988.

Full story here - Who Dat trademark case

While there are many lessons you could learn about protecting your intellectual property from this case, there is one very important one that may help you from being put out of business (or aid you in shutting down a company that is unlawfully stealing your ideas).

Trademarks Protect Your Company Name And Revenue Streams

Because of possible trademark infringement, Who Dat's attorney's shut down Fleurty Girl's Facebook page...and the NFL has ordered Fleurty girl to stop selling the Who Dat labeled T-shirts. And this is BEFORE the case has been settled.

Think about that for a second. Imagine if one of the main revenue streams of your business was instantly shut down? Even worse, what if it was your ONLY revenue stream. Could your business survive a long and costly legal battle while NOT bringing in sales? Or would that cripple you?

An even if it could, how would you feel if you were forced to discontinue a marketing campaign that was bringing in tons of cash?

Trademark Your Business Identity

 The United States Patent and Trademark office says the job of a trademark is to:

"protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce"

Make sure you protect your intellectual property and trademark EVERYTHING. This allows you exclusive rights to the brand name that represents your business. And it gives you rights to shut down other people who try and capitalize of your ideas, products and hard work.

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Disney's Intellectual Property Rights Infringed by Chinese Theme Park

As a Florida patent attorney with 3 kids dragging me to Orlando regularly to visit Mickey, I found this AP News Alert of special interest.  The Shijingshan Amusement Park in Beijing, China, is having to explain why their round-eared mouse dancing with kids is not a knock off of Disney's Mickey Mouse according to an AP News Alert issued Wednesday, May 9, 2007.  According to the article, they also happen to have a "raven-haired" woman with seven men in elf suits.

Many see the Beijing theme park as evidence of rampant Chinese copying of U.S. intellectual property.  According to the article, the industry group - International Intellectual Property Alliance - estimated losses to Chinese piracy of books, films, music and software last year at $2.2 billion.  Beijing has penalties for violators of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property but infringement is allegedly growiing faster than enforcement.

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Patent Application Quantity Not an Accurate Indication of Patent Quality

Hats off to Mark Reichel of The Daily Dose of IP Blog for his post regarding the U.S. Patent Office discontinuing its annual top ten patent holder list.

In the Patent Office press release, the PTO announced that it will no longer be publishing its annual ranking of the top 10 organizations obtaining the most U.S. patents in the preceeding year.  According to the press release, it is abandoning the list of top ten patent holders and "emphasizing quality over qualtity by discouraging any perception that we believe more is better." 

 About time.  I always wondered why the patent office focused so much attention on their "top ten list" as all it really did was provide those few "repeat customers" lucky enough to be in the "top ten" with bragging rights on their level of innovation.  

I wonder if the patent office's departure from this "strictly by the numbers" approach is the beginning of a new trend in the intellectual property field.  Are we finally able to look beyond the total number of patents in any defined segment before making broad generalizations based upon that number.

For example, as long as I can remember, the well known publication, Intellectual Property Today has tabulate its "Top Patent Law Firm" and "Top Trademark Law Firm" listings based EXCLUSIVELY on the number of patents and trademarks these firms obtained for their clients in any given year. 

The law firms near the top of this list invariably (like their corporate counterparts in the PTO's top ten listings) used their ranking in IP Today's top ten lists in their marketing materials. 

Perhaps such marketing efforts are persuasive--I don't know--but I welcome comments from in-house patent counsel as to what weight, if any, the IP Today annual top firm survey has on their choice of private patent or trademark counsel.

(As an aside: I am currently considering corrective laser eye surgery to eliminate my having to wear glasses and have narrowed my choice of surgeons down to a handful in the Fort Lauderdale / Miami Florida area---let me tell you...the number of eyes ZAPPED per year per doctor is not on my list of criteria!)

I am sure that rankings that go "strictly by the numbers" is the easiest and least controversial method of publishing listings of law firms and the PTO's top ten list.  But just because something is the "easiest and least controversial" does not mean that it is faultless.  From the perspective of a Florida patent attorney, I fail to see how a ranking by the numbers provides any indication of quality (as in the listings of patent law firms) or of innovation (as in the PTO's top ten listings).  

 

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Florida Restaurant Alleges Trademark Infringement

Florida restaurant, C.R. Chicks brought a trademark infringement lawsuit against a Michigan Restauranteur, causing the Michigan proprietor to give up his restaurants' name, C.R. Smokin Chicks, and go back to the drawing board in his efforts to name his restaurant, according to an article in The Detroit News.

Ironically, this is only one of several names Gary Baja has turned to in his seemingly never-ending efforts to name his restaurant in a way that avoids claims of trademark infringement from others.

He initially started the eatery with the name, Mother Cluckers, back in 2004.  That name was abandoned since the landlord found it distasteful.  When the restaurant's name was changed to C.R. Smokin Chicks, Florida restaurant chain, C.R. Chicks, alleged trademark infringement.

In an effort to resolve the matter, the owner Gary Baja put black duct tape over the letters C.R. so only the Smokin Chicks would show a seen below (if you look carefully, you will see the tape):

Smokin Chicks did not last very long either as another trademark attorney alleged trademark infringement over a Missouri restaurant called Smokin' Chix.  So Gary added ribs to the menu and changed the name to Smokin' Ribs and Chicks.  The trademark office rejected this name as well based on a conflict with an other Missouri restaurant.

In the meantime, a local talk show station is accepting name nominations.

The moral of the story for Florida businesses seeking to avoid trademark litigation?

Get a good Florida trademark attorney that understands Florida trademark law as well as federal practice as well as related intellectual property doctrines including copyright law BEFORE you spend a lot of time and money in naming your business. 

Why someone with a broad intellectual property background instead of just a national firm focusing on federal trademark pratice?  Well, ou want your lawyer to have multiple tools available to him with which to assist you. 

Remember the old proverb, "if all you have is a hammer.....than everything will will look like a nail".

 

 

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Copyright and Trademark Infringement Not Too Sweet

CNN reports that International Medial Films, Inc. accused New York filmmaker Andrei Treivas Bregman of trademark and copyright infringement for pornographic films he made under his business name, Michael Lucas.  The lawsuit seeks to prevent the sales of the movies, "Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita" Parts 1 and 2, and to collect unspecified damages.

Bregman, who moved from Moscow to the United States in 1997, called the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan a joke.

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Florida Intellectual Property Attorney Takes on Disney Company

As a Florida patent attorney and the author of the Florida Intellectual Property Law Blog, I often receive press releases and news submissions relating to Florida intellectual property matters.  I received the following press release today regarding another case by Florida intellectual property attorneys Silverman Santucci, LLP concerning alleged violations of Florida trade secret law:

For immediate release by PRceptions:

Tim Allen and Touchtone Pictures Sued Over Wild Hogs Rip-Off

One week before the national release of the much publicized John Travolta road comedy, Wild Hog's, Travolta's co-star, and Hollywood funny man, Tim Allen, and Disney's Touchtone Pictures, are being sued for theft of trade secrets under Florida law. The suit is still pending.

 If South Florida screen writers Steven Battaglia and Paul Danner get their way, and the Florida courts aprove, all money generated by the movie will be deposited in a trust fund pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

 The lawsuit claims that on two occasions, first in 2000 on the set of the Touchstone movie The Crew, and then again in 2002 on the set of another Touchstone release Big Trouble starring Tim Allen, Battaglia handed copies of his work to agents and representatives of Touchtone Pictures and to one of Tim Allen's personal assistants. Writer Steven Battaglia is a well known South Florida based hair dresser who works on movie sets in the area. Paul Danner is a author/screen writer with extensive credentials as well as being a police detective in South Florida.

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Trademark Infringement Fries KFC Franchise to a Crisp

According to an article on Telegram.com, U.S. Marshals visited Kentucky Fried Chicken stores in Webster and Auburn for takeout of a completely different kind:  They wanted to make sure all signs, merchandise, and manuals with the KFC corporate trademarks, logo, or design were removed from the premises and destroyed.

David J. Chrisler and his wife, Mary, who are currently in Florida, have been in a bucket of trouble for allegedly operating two KFC restaurants for nearly a year after their franchise agreement was terminated.

 

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Florida Trademark Application Deemed "Scandalous"

The Smoking Gun reports that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has rejected a Florida man's trademark application for the term "Obama bin Laden," ruling that the conflation of the names of a U.S. Senator and the world's leading terrorist was "scandalous" and erroneously suggested a connection between the politician and the mass murderer.

The United States Patent & Trademark Office decided on February 6, 2007 not to register the trademark.  Examining Attorney Karen K. Bush informed the Applicant, Alexandre Batlle, of the decision via an Office Action.

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West Palm Beach Venture Capitalist Conference

The Palm Beach Post reports that the Florida Venture Forum invited 27 start-up companies to present their business plans at the Florida Venture Capital Conference at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.

Two South Florida companies that were schedule to appear where (1) DayJet Corp. of Delray Beach, a company developing on-demand short-haul jet service and founded by Ed Iacobucci, who also created Fort Lauderdale-based software maker Citrix Systems, and (2) Multiply Inc. of Boca Raton, a social networking website aimed at adults who are looking for ways to share photographs and communicate with family and friends.  This company was founded by former CBS sportsline.com executive Pete Pezaris.

 

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Trademark Dispute Over Pizza Turns into Federal Food Fight

The Gazette reports a trademark dispute between Ledo Pizza Inc. of Annapolis and the Marcos family of Prince George's County.

Ledo has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt against Thomas E. Marcos Sr., Thomas E. Marcos, Jr., and James L. Marcos, claiming the family illegally used the Ledo name and trademark to sell food, resulting in financial losses.

Just a couple of months ago, the Marcos family and Ledo chairman Robet M. Beall appeared to be best of friends when appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show and getting national exposure for having one of the best Pizzas in the nation.

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Trademark Infringement Suit Makes Bull Lock Horns in South Florida

According to an article posted on BEVNET, a federal magistrate judge recently ruled that a South Florida company does not yet have the right to take the deposition of Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian marketing whiz behind the wildly successful energy drink, Red Bull.

The trademark infringement dispute began when attorneys for Austrian energy drink Red Bull sent a cease-and-desist letter to South Florida Vital Pharmaceuticals, which does business under the moniker,  VPX Sports. Red Bull claimed VPX's product was too similar to the popular caffeinated drink.

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Trademark Issues for Martha Stewart

An article on postcrescent.com reports that Martha Stewart, who recently spent several months in jail, is currently using her name to sell furniture from her Katonah Collection, which include a four-poster bed and a tailored English sofa.

As a result, Martha and her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimeida, Inc., are applying for trademark protection for the Katonah Collection, named after her new hometown, Katonah, in upstate New York.

 

 

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Florida Trademark Dispute Over MyFlorida.com

According to an article in the Miami Herald, the state of Florida is trying to protect its trademark in court from a domain name publisher that bought MyFlorida.mobi.

Thomas Rask, Florida-based Logical Sites chief executive, bought the name for two years at $70.  Shortly after that, a Florida Department of Management Services contacted Rask requesting that he hand the website over, since the state owns the MyFlorida.com trademark.

 

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Florida Venture Blog Excellent Resource for Intellectual Property Entrepreneurs

Dan Rua, an experienced early-stage venture capital investor with a technology foundation and product design, development, and management experience, is the author of Florida Venture Blog.  The blog, described as "a running perspective on Florida's growing tech and venture community," provides valuable information for those individuals seeking to build companies by innovative means.

Currently a manager at Inflexion Fund, Mr, Rua's experience includes a partnership with Draper Atlantic, participation in finding and building thirty-two companies and managing funds totaling over $140 million, as well as teaching entrepreneruship and venture capital seminars at various educational institutions.

The Florida Venture Blog is considered one of, in not the, leading blogs on tech, entrepreneurship, and venture capital around Florida.

In addition to consulting a Florida Patent Attorney to assist with intellectual property issues, exploring ways in which to start up or enhance a business is definitely advisable.

 

 

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Miami Intellectual Property Attorney's Blog Entitled The Counterfeit Blog

An excellent resource for Miami and Florida intellectual property issues is the Counterfeit Blog, concentrating on anti-counterfeiting law and policing.  The blog is published by Miami, Florida Attorney Leora Herrman, who has been fighting counterfeiters for more than a decade.

Ms. Herrmann's legal expertise includes anti-counterfeiting, copyrights, licensing of trademarks,  patents and celebrity rights of publicity, U.S. and international trademark protection, and copyright law.  For interesting, informative, and insightful articles, this is definitely a site to check out at www.counterfeitblog.com.

 

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Trademark Infringement Case is High Steaks

The Nashville Post reports that Orlando Florida-based Darden Restaurants, the owner of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, is being sued for trademark infringement by Nashville-based O'Charley's owner of the Stoney River chain. 

The dispute stems over Darden Restaurant's new concept for a steakhouse, Rocky River Grillhouse, a lodge type eatery serving grilled steaks and seafood.  O'Charley's find this concept too similar to its Stoney River Legendary Steaks, which opened last year in Nashville's West End.

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Florida Trademark Infringement Litigation

Florida trademark infringement lawsuits can be brought under either the Florida trademark statute (Chapter 495) or under federal law (Lanham Act) depending upon whether or not a federal trademark registration has been obtained.  If you are not sure if you or someone else has obtained a Florida trademark registration, you may want to do a search on the Florida trademark database.  Many general practitioners in Florida only occassionally see intellectual property litigation of any type, much less, Florida trademark litigation,  and are not aware of the benefits of Florida's trademark statute.

At one time, state law was seen as providing the primary venue for protection of trademarks.  All of this changed, however, when federal trademark laws were enacted by Congress.  The main federal statute is the Lanham Act and it was enacted in 1946 and amended numerous times since then.  Federal law has since provided the most extensive protection of trademarks.  However, it would be a mistake to dismiss Florida state law remedies for trademark infringement, particularly in view of the recent amendments to Florida's trademark statute.    

 

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Trademark Infringement Takes a Bite out of Apple

 

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Apple, Inc. has been sued by Cisco Systems, Inc. over the use of the iPhone name, prompting a traddmark infringement battle the day after Apple introduced its new mobile device under the same name.

Cisco filed suit Wednesday, January 10, 2007 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, trying to prevent the iPhone name from being utilized by Apple.

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Florida Trademark Litigation Avoided by Coral Gables and Orlando Via Joint-use Agreement

Orlando Trademark

Florida trademark litigation avoided.  Two Florida Cities (Coral Gables & Orlando) have agreed to avoid potential trademark litigation by working together for shared use of the name "City Beautiful" according to an article (reproduced below) in Miami Today:

Orlando Close to Getting Trademark for "City Beautiful"

By Risa Polansky
   Orlando's application to federally trademark longtime slogan The City Beautiful is in the initial stages of approval, leaving Coral Gables, which also uses the name, about a month to negotiate shared usage before a formal objection period begins.

 

 

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Intellectual Property Law Certification First in Florida

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports the approval of the nation's first legal specialty in intellectual property law by the Florida Supreme Court.  This certification will be one of 22 certification areas available in the state.

Florida Bar president, Henry M. Coxe III, appointed a nine-member certification committee to review credentials of applicants, develop policy implementation standards approved by the Florida Supreme Court, and draft and administer the first examination to those lawyers whose practices primarily consist of patent application prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law, and copyright law.

Appropriate certificates identifying lawyers as "Board Certified Intellectual Property Lawyers," will be issued to attorneys in good standing of The Florida Bar who meet the standards prescribed by the state's Supreme Court.

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Trademark Tips

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Jon Fredkove over at Named Development has posted an interesting and humorous article regarding applying for trademark protection with the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

I urge you to visit his blog for the complete article. You will find it under the November 6, 2006 Links Du Jour entitled "Trademarks and Superstitions."

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Trademark Suit Over Am Trust Name

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The St. Petersburg Times reports that Ohio Savings Bank, which trademarked the name "Am Trust" in 1987 and formed a Boca Raton, Florida subsidiary, AmTrust Bank, in 1999, is taking legal action against Dan Hicks, who formed AmTrust Funding Services in 2002.

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Trademark Lawsuit Goes "Bongos"

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Canada.com reports that latin singer Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio are trying to prevent a Florida club owner from utilizing the word "bongos," even though the Estefan's previously argued that the word cannot be trademark protected.

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Trademark Dispute Settled Between Florida Newspapers

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The Associated Press reported that a trademark dispute over the right to use the name "Tampa Bay Times" has been settled between the newspapers St. Petersburg Times and The Tampa Tribune.

The trademark dispute commenced last February when the Tribune sued the Times in federal court for trademark infringement. The Times countersued, claiming that the Tribune had abandoned the mark "Tampa Times."

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Trademark Infringement Lawsuit filed by Singer Jimmy Buffett

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According to an article in Reuters, a trademark infringement lawsuit was filed by singer Jimmy Buffett on November 13, 2006, asking a U.S. Federal Judge to put an end to a Web site operator's infringing actions.

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Trademark Infringement Lead to Eye Injury

First Coast News reports on a Florida Intellectual Property litigation issue involving Joseph Pellegrino, a Jacksonville, Florida resident.  Several years ago, Pellegrino was at a gas station on Blanding Boulevard in Orange Country Park.  When he went inside to pay for his gas, he came across a pair of Oakley sunglasses retailing for $15, as opposed to the normal $200.

When he tried on the sunglasses, a part of the glasses shot right into his eye, damaging his cornea.  His eye bled, necessitating surgery.  Pellegrino is now at risk for eye disease.

 

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Trademark Office Experiments with Telecommuting for Attorneys

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According to an article in the Washington Post, The United States Patent & Trademark Office has initiated a telecommuting pilot project for its examining attorneys, allowing them to work from home...wherever that home may be.

Under this pilot program, ten experienced trademark attorneys possessing good job-performance ratings, will be permitted to move away from the Washington, D.C. area anywhere in the continental United States.

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Trademark Infringement Creates Problems for EBay and Others

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According to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a civil suit has recently been filed against EBay in France by Louis Vuitton and sister company Christian Dior Couture. These companies claim EBay is responsible for sales of counterfeit products that infringe on trademark rights. Louis Vuitton alleges that 90% of Vuitton bags offered during the first six months of this year on EBay were fakes.

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Trademark Infringement Suit in Florida Leaves Patients in Limbo

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According to an aricle posted on www.emediawire.com, a ten day extension has been granted in the case of Neuropathic National Council, Inc. vs. the State of Florida.

The Tallahassee courtroom must decide if the practice of naturopathy should be allowed in the State of Florida, and who is the licensing authority for traditional naturpoaths, the Naturopathic National Council (as recognized by the federal government), or the State of Florida?

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Trademark Infringement Makes Bull See Red

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According to an article on MSNBC.Com, Red Bull GmbH, the maker of the world's top-selling energy drink, has gone to court to try to prevent the importation of bootleg Red Bull through Georgia, in violation of its trademark.

Red Bull GmbH filed a lawsuit on September 22, 2006 in a federal court in Atlanta,accusing an import company of selling "gray market" cans of the popular energy drink in Georgia and elsewhere in the United States to be imported to consumers in Argentina, Ireland, and Poland.

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Trademark Laws Not Violated by Documentaries

According to the Associated Press, a federal judge in Miami ruled against tennis star Maria Sharapova, finding that a Florida production company did not violate trademark laws by marketing a documentary on the athlete, despite her agent's attempts to prevent distribution.05112412417_sharapova.jpg


The judge concluded that Byzantium Productions Incorporated was within the law in its production of two documentaries entitled "Anna's Army" and "Russian Women's Tennis."

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Trademark Infringement Alleged by Maxim Magazine

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that New York-based Dennis Publishing Inc., publisher of Maxim Magazine, has filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement against Maxxim Men's Club and Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida, alleging trademark dilution and unfair competition. maxim cover.jpgFiled in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, the plaintiff's case alleges that the defendant has "aggressively promoted and continues to promote the gentlemen's club in a manner that causes patrons to believe that it is operated by, associated with, or sanctioned by Maxim."

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Trademark Battle Won in Rum War

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The Miami Herald reported that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has decided that the current registration on the trademark HAVANA CLUB is canceled/expired. Cubaexport, a Cuban government company that has a joint venture with Pernod Ricard to sell Havana Club in Cuba and around the world, plans to appeal the decision.

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Trademark Infringement Lawsuit involving Real Estate Brokerage

According to a press release on Yahoo, Home & Land Affiliates, LLC reached a favorable settlement in a lawsuit for trademark infringement brought against a real estate brokerage and its principals, having multiple Florida offices. A United States District Judge signed a permanent injunction which was part of the settlement.

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Trademark Laws Tested by Musical Copycats

According to an article on Stateline.org, states have begun cracking down on copycat musical performers who steal music from the original artists and deceive fans.

New laws have been passed in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Illinois, and Connecticut requiring peforming groups include at least one original member in order to advertise or perform under the group's name.

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Trademark Filed By Busch Gardens for Mystery Ride

The Daily Press reports that Busch Garden's parent company applied this month for a trademark for the word "Griffon." According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the service provided by this mark will be "entertainment in the nature of an amusement park ride.

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Cybersquatter Loses Legal Battle in Trademark Case

Canada.com reported that Jeff Burgar, an Alberta entrepeneur, has lost a battle on the international stage after the United Nations' domain-name arbitration body upheld Tom Cruise's right to the website www.tomcruise.com.

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Trademark Infringement Allegations Take a Bite at Apple

PC Welt reports that U.S. e-commerce Tiger Direct has filed a suit against Apple for trademark infringement with the launching of the newest Mac OS X, called "Tiger."

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Trademark Infringement Alleged by Media Company

The South Florida Business Journal reports that West Palm Beach Florida-based Ion Media Networks is being sued by San Pedro California-based Positive Ions, alleging trademark infringement in a federal lawsuit.

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Trademark Conflict Creates Drama for Reality Show

According to an article in Florida Today, a rock band called Supernova from Southern California has filed a complaint against CBS reality show "Rock Star: Supernova," alleging it used the name first.

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Trademark "Knockoffs" Plague Energy Drinks

Food Ingredients First posted an article discussing the problems associated with Trademark "knockoffs," and how the energy drink category in particular has been subject to a whole new level of "knockoffs" that create confusion, and in some instances, identical names for existing products.

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Florida Patent Infringement Lawsuit Filed in Southern District of Florida for $50 MIllion

The Los Angeles Bizjournal reported that Venali, Inc. has filed a suit agains J2 Global Communications, Inc. and Catch Curve, Inc. alleging violations of Federal Antitrust, trademark competitiveness, and patent laws.

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Trademark Infringement Weapon Arrives in Florida

As discussed in an article in the Daily Business Review, the Florida Bar has pushed a new state law that will afford greater protection for corporate names, brands, logos, and slogans used by companies that do not practice interstate commerce.

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Cybersquatting Leads to Lawsuit and Emphasizes Need to Trademark

The Houston Chronicle reported that Munday Chevrolet filed suit in a South Florida federal court, after people reported visiting the car dealership's website and finding porn.

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Trademark Victory for Budweiser Beer in Europe

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As reported on Canada.com, Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. has announced a legal victory in a continuing battle to trademark its top-selling Budweiser beer in Europe.

The Board of Appeal for the European Union's Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market ruled that Anheuser-Busch can register its trademark Bud beer throughout Europe.

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HOOTERS Restaurant Chain Loses Appeal In Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against Winghouse of Florida


A U.S. District Court Judge's ruling against restaurant chain, HOOTERS, has been affirmed in a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Florida District Court Judge Anne C. Conway in Orlando, Florida, ruled that the "Hooters Girl" persona is "primarily functional" and therefore not entitled to trademark protection. HI Ltd. Partnership v. Winghouse of Florida, Inc. No. 6:03-cv-116 (M.D. Fla. 2004).

Trademark attorneys for Hooters claimed that the Florida based sports bar WingHouse copied too many elements from Hooters restaurant and violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Relying on the classic elements of trademark infringement, Hooter's argued that Winghouse copied so many features unique to Hooters that customers would be confused into thinking the two companies were affiliated.

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Mediating Intellectual Property Disputes

Todd Mayover, in-house intellectual property counsel for a medical device company in Florida, has an interesting post at the IPCounsel Blog entitled Intellectual Property Mediation:

"Regardless of the situation, without suggesting mediation, it will never happen. The obvious risk is that other party(s) may say no, but this would have no effect on the actual case at hand. At least the parties would know where they stand."

That being said, it is important to note that the risks of not mediating vary greatly depending upon which milestones have already passed in the litigation.

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Trademark Tips to Prevent Rejection of your mark

The Miami Herald reports preventative measures to avoid trademark rejection by the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Many businesses assume that a trademark that conveys basic information about a specific product or service is ideal. However, such trademarks can be deemed merely descriptive of the goods and services and rejected.

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Florida Based BONGOS Restaurant Chain Sues for Trademark Infringement

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Gloria and Emilio Estefan have filed trademark infringement suits throughout the country, claiming that their restaurant Bongos name and concept are being used by others without their permission.

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TRADEMARK AND GI PROTECTION SUBJECT OF USPTO PROGRAM IN CHINA

According to the AGIPNEWS, The United States Patent & Trademark Office, in collaboration with the China Trademark Office, completed a successful weeklong program last week in China, regarding "geographical indications (GIs)."

"Geographical indications" refer to identifiers of goods originating in the territory of a World Trade Organization member. GIs also designate a region or locality within a given territory, where inherent qualities, reputation, or other characteristics of the goods are essentially attributable to its geographic origin. "Florida" for oranges, "Idaho" for potatoes, "Washington State" for apples, etc. are all examples of geographical indications from the United States.

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TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT ALLEGED BY SIX BLACK FRATERNITIES

The Louisiana Weekly reports that Converse, Inc. is being sued by six black fraternities and sororities who claim that the company infringed on their trademark rights.

The fraternities and sororities contend in their U.S. District Court lawsuit that Converse committed trademark infringement and unfair competition regarding their GREEKPAK basketball shoes. Converse began selling the shoes in 2003, which it has since discontinued to do.

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TRADEMARK HOLDERS GET ACCESS TO NEW DOMAIN

The Computer Business Review reports that holders of trademarks will be able to register their trademarks as .mobi names beginning June 12, 2006.

The first internet address created specifically for cellular phone users, .mobi will be available through 16 of the top 20 domain name registrars throughout the world. Starting May 22, 2006, select members of mobile industry associations will be given the chance to register trademark names as .mobi domains.

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FLORIDA MAGAZINE SCRAPPED AMIDST TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT ALLEGATIONS

According to an article in the Boston Herald, Perfect Vision Media Group LLC publisher, Kevin Hernandez, has folded the modern design magagazine, Modernista, which had been sued for alleged trademark infringement by Boston ad agency Modernista!

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TRADEMARK SUIT SETTLES BETWEEN APPAREL GIANT AND LITTLE PEAS

The Miami Herald has reported that apparel maker Sweet Peas Ltd. has settled its lawsuit with 52 defendants, who had named themeselves the "sour peas." Sweet Pea had sued the defendants earlier this year for ingringing upon its trademark, Sweet Pea, in relation to the sale of clothing articles.

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TRADEMARK INFRINGMENT ALLEGED BY MIAMI APPAREL-MAKER

As reported in an article in the Miami Herald, Miami-based Sweet Pea Ltd. is suing 52 retailers for $16 million each for infringing on its "Sweet pea" trademark.

Sweet Pea Ltd. alleges that the retailers infringed on its mark by using it in connection with women's wear, which is covered within Sweet Pea's rights to utilize the name on a wide variety of clothing.

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AD AGENCY SUES FLORIDA MAGAZINE FOR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT

According to an article in the Boston Herald, the Florida owners of a modern design magazine called Modernista are being sued for alleged trademark infringement and unfair competition by a Boston ad agency that utilizes the trademark "Modernista!".

The lawsuit, which was filed on Friday, February 24, 2006 in Massachusetts District Court against Perfect Vision Media Group, LLC of Miami Beach, addresses agency concerns that the magazine's name could cause confusion among customers about who publishes the magazine and sells ad space.

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Miami based Wheel Manufacturer Provides Low-End Prices for Premium Trademark Brands

Founded in 2004 in Miami, Modular Wheels has created a new 2006 line of customized wheels for such luxury trademark names as Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Mercedes, and BMW vehicles. According to the article at businesswire.com, the average costs for custom wheels for these vehicles is usually between the $1,000 to $1,500 range. Modular Wheels has cut that down between $350 to $550, a savings of more than 50%.

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Tampa, Florida Internet Company Sued for Trademark Infringement for Novelty Pay Stubs

Ever wish your pay stub showed a higher salary? Well, an internet company in Tampa, Florida offers to print a novelty pay stub for $89.95 that looks genuine according to an article in Newsday. The company's novelty paycheck stubs, however, are at the center of a trademark infringement lawsuit brought in San Jose, California.


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Scripps Research Institute Encounters Trademark Squatters in South Florida

The Scripps Research Institute is grappling with the unauthorized registration of their trademark with the Florida Division of Corporations. The name was registered by South Florida residents Virginia Scott of Jupiter, Florida and David Heilman of Lake Worth, Florida, according to an article in the South Florida Business Journal.

Other names allegedly improperly registered by the Lake Worth and Jupiter, Florida residents include Salomon Brothers Realty, Inc., Geico Direct, Inc, The Free Trade Area of the Americas of Miami, Inc., and Clearchannel Communications, Inc., according to the article.

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Florida Trademark Applicant Seeks Rights to "KATRINA BLOWS BUSH SUCKS"

Hurricane Katrina.jpg

Roughly two weeks after Hurricane Katrina battered South Florida, a trademark applicant in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is seeking rights to the mark KATRINA BLOWS BUSH SUCKS.

Details of the application can be found on the Patent & Trademark Office Website. Simply click on status and enter serial number 78706886 and request status.

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Hershey Sues Publisher for Trademark Infringement

Hershey's Book Cover.jpg

A federal lawsuit filed on December 16, 2005, alleges that publisher Simon & Schuster's front cover of "Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire and Utopian Dreams" is in violation of the candymaker's ( Hershey Chocolate Corporation )trademark rights because the cover looks like a Hershey bar.

So much for not judging a book by its cover.

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Florida Creater of a Skateboarding Move Known as an "Ollie" Sues Disney and Sega in Broward County Circuit Court Over Use of the Word

The Florida creater of a skateboarding move known as an "ollie" claims that he owns exclusive trademark rights to the name "ollie" and that Disney, Sega, and Ron Jon Surf Shop are infringing upon his trademark rights, according to an article in The Miami Herald.

He has retained a trademark attorney and brought suit in Broward, Florida Circuit court seeking damages of $20 million for use of the term that he claims violates his trademark in "Ollie". Gelfand owns the skateboard park Olliewood in Hollywood, Florida.

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