Ninth Circuit Holds “Bad Spaniels” Dog Toy Is an “Expressive Work”

By Anne Bolamperti and David G. Barker The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held in VIP Products LLC v. Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. that the “Bad Spaniels” dog toy is an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection. The court vacated the United States District Court for the District of Arizona’s judgment that the toy infringed the Jack Daniel’s trade dress and registered bottle design. VIP Products designs and sells rubber dog toys that employ entertaining adaptations of various beverage brands.  Beginning in July 2013, VIP began selling the “Bad Spaniels” version of the toy, which resembles the iconic   Read More »

Posted in Trademark Litigation | Tagged ,

Share this Article:

Republishing DNC’s Stolen Secrets Not Trade Secret Misappropriation

By David G. Barker On April 20, 2018, the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) sued the Russian Federation, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (the “Campaign”), WikiLeaks, and other defendants relating to the Russian Federation’s theft of documents from the DNC during the 2016 presidential election. Last week, the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, dismissed with prejudice the complaint against the Campaign, WikiLeaks, and the other defendants. The court noted, the “primary wrongdoer in this alleged criminal enterprise is undoubtably the Russian Federation . . . cannot be sued in the courts of the United States for   Read More »

Posted in IP and Technology Litigation, Trade Secrets Litigation | Tagged ,

Share this Article:

Supreme Court Holds Bar on Immoral or Scandalous Trademarks Unconstitutional

By: Anne M. Bolamperti and David G. Barker The Supreme Court held Monday that the Lanham Act’s bar on “immoral or scandalous” trademarks is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.  Delivering the 6-3 opinion of the Court, Justice Kagan relied on the Court’s previous decision in Matal v. Tam (discussed here), which held that the Lanham Act’s ban on “disparaging” trademarks also was unconstitutional. Respondent Erik Brunetti first sought federal registration of the trademark FUCT in connection with his urban clothing line.  Claiming use since December 1991, Brunetti’s line stands for “Friends U Can’t Trust,” but sounds like an expletive in acronym   Read More »

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

Share this Article:

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 »

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

Share this Article:

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 ,

Share this Article: