Webcast Title Using Trademarks of Another Deemed Nominative Fair Use

By Robert A. Clarke and David G. Barker The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the title of a webcast, which included two trademarks belonging to another party, constituted nominative fair use, which protected the defendants from trademark infringement claims. The plaintiff in Applied Underwriters v. Lichtenegger offers workers’ compensation insurance to employers through its EquityComp program.  Applied Underwriters owns federally registered trademarks for “Applied Underwriters” and “EquityComp.”  Defendants published a webcast critiquing EquityComp’s services, entitled “Applied Underwriters’ EquityComp® Program: Like it, Leave it, or Let it be?”  Applied Underwriters sued defendants for trademark infringement for including the   Read More »

Posted in IP and Technology Litigation, Trademark Litigation | Tagged , ,

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How Scandalous! SCOTUS Again Takes up Whether the Lanham Act Violates the First Amendment

By Shalayne Pillar and David G. Barker On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case that will decide whether the federal ban on trademark protection for “scandalous” material is unconstitutional.  In re Brunetti follows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (“USPTO’s”) denial of trademark registration for the word “Fuct,” which held that the mark “comprises immoral . . . or scandalous matter” and thus could not be registered under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act.  On appeal, the Federal Circuit sided with the applicant (discussed here), holding the statute violated the Free Speech provision   Read More »

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Supreme Court to Decide Multiple IP Issues This Term

 By Taryn J. Gallup and David G. Barker On October 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) granted certiorari in two IP cases.  In Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, SCOTUS will address a circuit split on the effect bankruptcy has on trademark license rights.  In Return Mail, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, et al., SCOTUS will address whether the government may challenge patents as a “person” under the America Invents Act (“AIA”). In Mission Product Holdings, Tempnology, LLC (“Tempnology”) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and cancelled a trademark licensing agreement that it had with   Read More »

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Ninth Circuit Holds County’s Advertising Restriction on “Disparaging Material” Unconstitutional

By Justin K. Powley and David G. Barker The Ninth Circuit held yesterday in American Freedom Defense Initiative v. King County that a county’s advertising program on public buses that rejected advertisements on the basis of disparaging material violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause and therefore is unconstitutional. King County provides public transportation in the Seattle metropolitan area and sells advertising space on the exterior of public buses. The County generally accepts all advertisements that do not contain prohibited content, including: false statements, disparaging material, or content that may disrupt the transit system. American Freedom Defense Initiative submitted a   Read More »

Posted in IP and Technology Litigation, Trademark Litigation | Tagged ,

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Federal Circuit Holds “Scandalous and Immoral” Ban Unconstitutional

By Tyler J. Fortner and David G. Barker Last Friday, in In re Brunetti, the Federal Circuit held that the ban on “scandalous and immoral” trademarks under 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a) is unconstitutional. The decision follows the June 19, 2017, Supreme Court decision, Matal v. Tam (discussed here), which held that the clause prohibiting marks that “disparage” in the same statute is unconstitutional. In Tam, the Court held that the PTO’s refusal to register the Asian-American band name, “THE SLANTS,” violated the First Amendment. Relying on Tam, the Federal Circuit reversed the PTO’s refusal to register “Fuct” as a trademark.   Read More »

Posted in Trademark Litigation | Tagged ,

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