Old Taco Bell logo

Taco John and Taco Bell Take the High Road so Everyone Can Celebrate TACO TUESDAY

Last week, Randy wrote about the “spectrum of trademark distinctiveness” and how generic terms cannot be protected as trademarks. This week, Taco John made news when it agreed to abandon its trademark registration for TACO TUESDAY for restaurant services after a recent challenge by Taco Bell alleging that TACO TUESDAY was generic and not entitled to trademark protection. Brand owners can learn a lot from how both Taco John and Taco Bell navigated the dispute to avoid an unsavory outcome. Taco Bell brought a unique blend of humor and law to its Petition for Cancellation of the TACO TUESDAY registration [...]
Read More

Apple iOS 12 Bug: Memoji Trademark Dispute

Here in The Tree, we love Apple products. We anxiously await any new updates to the hardware or software. We are also goofballs, so we were very excited to download iOS 12 and use the new Memoji feature. “Memoji” is a portmanteau of “me” and “emoji”. The feature allows you to shoot live video of an animated version of yourself ( a “Memoji”). It’s a blast. In addition to Apple products, we also love trademarks. So, we were doubly excited to find out that there is a trademark issue involving Apple’s use of the Memoji trademark. Another company claims to [...]
Read More
lots o pot leaves

Weed Spectator sued by Wine Spectator

There is no doubt that the marijuana business is a budding industry. Negative public opinions about marijuana have faded and more and more states are legalizing its medical and recreational use. New businesses are seeking the pot of gold at the end of the legal marijuana rainbow by pushing marijuana use into the mainstream. One of these companies has launched a website that allows marijuana users to rate the various types of the plant, much like a wine connoisseur. The website is called “Weed Spectator,” which is a twist on the wine rating magazine “Wine Spectator.” Wine Spectator is not [...]
Read More
Sad Furry

Comic Con Trademark: Attorneys’ Fees Are No Laughing Matter

It doesn’t happen very often, but a judge has awarded attorneys’ fees in a trademark case. For years now, San Diego Comic Con has been in a dispute with Salt Lake Comic Con over San Diego Comic Con’s COMIC-CON trademark (Back in 2014, resident cosplay expert, furry aficionado, and larping champion Kevin Hartley wrote about this dispute on our old blog). In this installment of the dispute, the California judge has entered an injunction against Salt Lake City Comic Con and awarded attorneys’ fees. Other stuff happened too, but I want to talk about the attorneys’ fees issue. In many [...]
Read More
Bourbon Barrels

Trademark Hell: Knockin’ on Heaven Hill’s Door

As Trust Tree’s resident bourbon expert* (sorry Bill & G) and Guns N’ Roses fan, I must uncork a post about the trademark dispute between Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. and Heaven’s Door Spirits, LLC that recently spilled over into a federal lawsuit. Heaven’s Door is named after the famous song by Bob Dylan, who has collaborated with the company to create a line of American whiskeys. In April, Heaven Hill, a 90-year old distillery, sent Heaven’s Door a cease and desist letter demanding that it cease use of the name and abandon several trademark applications seeking to protect HEAVEN’S DOOR. [...]
Read More

9th Circuit in Empire State of Mind

Today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ended Empire record label’s trademark infringement lawsuit against 20th Century Fox Television over the name of the television show “Empire,” on First Amendment grounds. The record label, Empire Distribution Inc., which reps hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg (and is not the fictitious record store) had sued Fox in 2015. Empire claimed, among other things, a likelihood of confusion between the Empire television program (which is about the rap game) and the label, at least when used on musical soundtracks accompanying the show. Fox argued that the name of the show relates […]

Read More

Humvee sues “Call of Duty” Maker Activision for Trademark Infringment

AM General, has sued Activision Blizzard Inc., the maker of the popular video game “Call of Duty” for trademark infringement for using images of its Humvee military vehicles in the game. The Humvee (short for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles) has been widely used by the  US military for years, and is a favorite of barbarian-turned-governer, Arnold Schwarzenegger.   This will be an interesting case to watch since, in addition to the HUMVEE and HMMWV trademarks, it also involves trade dress.    

Read More

Sons of Trademarchy

It is now an undisputed fact that bikers love trademarks. I have twice written about the intersection between outlaw motorcycle clubs and trademark law. First, I wrote about how many of these clubs own and litigate federally registered trademarks. The following week, I wrote about how the feds are trying to use trademarks to stop outlaw motorcycle gangs. Now, there is yet another trademark dispute involving bikers.

Read More

Don’t Play with Fireball

If you are from the South and ever leave your house, you’ve heard of Fireball. Fireball is a cinnamon flavored whiskey distilled by Sazerac. In addition to being a great drink to sneak into football games on cool, fall days, it’s also replaced Jägermeister as the go-to drink for your buddy who buys everyone shots when everyone’s already had too much to drink. The Fireball logo shows exactly how it makes you feel. But, it’s whiskey, so I like it. Well, it appears that Sazerac is pretty protective of its Fireball trademark. It recently filed suit against a North Carolina brewery, claiming that its […]

Read More

North Coast Brewing Sues Corsair Over Old Rasputin Trademark

The legendary Rasputin is synonymous with a variety of immoral and evil practices. You wouldn’t normally build a brand around a guy known as the “Mad Monk,” but that didn’t stop North Coast Brewing from naming a beer after him or Corsair Artisan Distillery from naming a whiskey after him. North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin beer is supposedly well regarded in craft beer circles. I haven’t tried it, and frankly I’m not even sure if it’s available here in Nashville. I’m much more familiar with Corsair, which makes my favorite gin. I haven’t had the Rasputin whiskey, but it sounds amazing. Here’s a description from the website: TO […]

Read More