Photo of Twitter X sign

X and The Risks of Rebranding

Last week, Randy wrote about some lurking trademark issues that could await Elon Musk as he rebrands Twitter to X. Musk’s decision shines a spotlight on the risks associated with rebranding. Not only can rebranding lead to a potential dispute with another trademark owner, as Randy discussed, but it can also cause a brand to lose a lot of value. Trademarks can be valuable assets, but with the rebrand, $4 to $20 billion in value vanished overnight based on estimates from analysts and brand agencies. Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October. Coincidentally, the company is currently valued at [...]
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Image of an X made of blue birds

Rebranding Spotlight: Transforming Twitter into X

After I heard that Elon Musk would rebrand Twitter as X, I did what many nerdy trademark lawyers did: I checked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database for any recent X trademark filings by Twitter or X Corp. I didn't find any, which is not necessarily unusual. Sometimes multinational companies will first file outside the U.S. and later extend protection to the U.S. So I checked another database for filings outside the U.S. and still found nothing. There is a lag between filings being made and when they first appear in the public trademark databases. In the U.S., it's [...]
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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 [...]
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A real apple next to the Apple logo on a computer

Apple vs. APPLE – The Spectrum of Trademark Distinctiveness

During a recent discussion with a non-lawyer about trademarks, I explained the so-called “spectrum of trademark distinctiveness” and used APPLE as an example of an arbitrary mark. The person responded, “Wait, you can trademark that?”. The question caught me off guard since I assumed everyone knew that APPLE was arguably the most valuable trademark in the world. Well, to paraphrase Ted Lasso, you know what they say when you assume? You make an "arse" out of you and me. So let’s go back to the basics. When creating a trademark for your brand, product, or service, it’s important to understand [...]
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Bed Bath and Beyond coupon

Overstocked with IP Assets: Two Takeaways from the Bed Bath & Beyond IP Acquisition

When I first heard that Bed Bath & Beyond was shuttering, I shuddered to think about finding a new go-to place to buy Mahogany Teakwood candles. A moment later I realized that I was confusing the home goods store with Bath & Body Works. It wasn’t the first time I had confused the two alliteratively-named retailers, but - with the news - I thought it could be my last. That is, until recently when bought Bed Bath & Beyond’s intellectual property assets out of bankruptcy for $21.5 million. More like Bed Bath & (Saved from the Great) Beyond. After [...]
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black bear

Bears in Nashville!

Bears have always been my favorite wild animal, so I was stoked to find out that black bears have been spotted in Middle Tennessee and even in Nashville. As sightings began to spread from Spring Hill to counties north of Nashville, my happiness turned to concern. What should I do if I happen upon a bear on one of my daily walks? What should I tell my kids to do if they encounter a bear in the neighborhood? The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Agency has these tips for living among black bears: Never feed or approach bears! If a bear [...]
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Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Trademark Law

The popularity of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT has exploded in recent months. This has led to some handwringing among trademark lawyers about whether AI is coming for their jobs. Image created with Bing Image Creator So, I asked ChatGPT whether it was coming for me. Here's its answer: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, AI like ChatGPT can't replace trademark lawyers, though it can certainly assist them in their work. Trademark law involves complex legal analysis, interpretation of legal texts, understanding context, advising clients, and negotiation skills, which are areas that AI is not yet capable of [...]
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Harry Potter Trademark Certificate

What Startups Can Learn from Harry Potter about the Value of Trademark Registrations

Trademark attorneys often talk about how a trademark embodies the goodwill of a business. When I try to wrap my brain around the idea, I often think about my favorite part of the Harry Potter series. Toward the end of the series, Harry asks Professor Dumbledore whether something he is experiencing is real or happening in his head. Dumbledore responds, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?" Just because it can be hard to grasp the intangible goodwill of a business it does not mean the goodwill [...]
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Counterfeits: More Annoying than a Mosquito on a Summer Night

Boy, is it ever hot in Tennessee right now. And, the mosquitos are thriving. Like an annoying mosquito on a warm, summer night, counterfeit products are hard to squish. The most significant indicator of an authentic product is the ™ or ®. However, many large brands do not use trademark symbols on their products, believing it stifles the aesthetic of the design. By leaving these well-known and understood trademark symbols off products, brands open themselves up for fakes and frauds to take advantage. See if you can tell which items below are real and which are fake (answers at the [...]
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As Generic as Apple Pie

It’s Fourth of July Weekend! Or should I say, “Happy Birthday ‘Merica!” You probably already know you cannot register a generic term for a product or service. In other words, you cannot use a trademark registration to prevent others from using the term “apple pie” to refer to apple pie. But did you know that distinctive trademarks can become generic if they become too successful? Trademark owners can lose their rights if their trademarks become too commonly used. Have you ever had a headache and used ASPIRIN? Needed to go up a tall building and used the ESCALATOR? These marks, [...]
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