Written by: Susan Neuberger Weller

When you think of The Hershey Company, you think of delicious chocolate candy bars, chocolate kisses, and a fabulous amusement park in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The company’s brown candy bar wrappers with the HERSHEY’S trademark prominently displayed on the front have been in use since, at least, 1905, and the company owns numerous US trademark registrations for this version of this mark for candy and other products. However, Hershey is not so sweet on a Maryland State Senator Steve Hershey’s chocolate-colored campaign signs which, it claims, bear a striking resemblance to its famous trademark and trade dress, and has filed suit against the Senator for trademark infringement and related claims. A side-by-side comparison of the Hershey trademark and Senator Hershey’s chocolate-colored campaign signs are displayed in the Complaint and in connection with an article in The Baltimore Sun newspaper. Continue Reading Hershey Is Not So Sweet on Maryland Senator’s HERSHEY Campaign Logo

Written by: Susan Neuberger Weller

The City of Houston, Texas has filed a Petition For Writ Of Certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States asking the Court to interpret Section 2(b) of the Lanham Act to determine whether it prohibits a government entity from federally registering its own flag or coat of arms or other insignia as a mark with the US Patent and Trademark Office.  The City of Houston v. Acting Director, U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, 13-784 (S.Ct. December 30, 2013). As was noted in our previous post on emoticons, US trademark law prohibits the registration of marks which fall into many different categories, including any mark which “consists of or comprises the flag or coat of arms or other insignia of the United States, or of any State or municipality, or of any foreign nation, or any simulation thereof.”  The original Examining Attorney for Houston’s application for registration, and the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in subsequent appeals, all agreed that the “plain meaning” of the statutory language prohibited such registration. Does this make sense?

Continue Reading Houston, We Have a Problem: City Petitions the US Supreme Court to Register Its Official Seal as a Trademark

Written by: Susan Neuberger Weller

 Christian Louboutin filed suit last week in Federal District Court in New York against Charles Jourdan Fashion Footwear and unnamed companies and John and Jane Does for trademark counterfeiting and infringement and other related claims based upon the Defendants’ sales of women’s shoes bearing red soles. As we previously reported, Louboutin was unsuccessful in its bid to claim exclusivity in the color red when used in any capacity for women’s shoes in its action against Yves Saint Laurent, but still owns valid US trademark Registration No. 3,361,597 for the color red when used on the sole of women’s shoes. The allegedly infringing Charles Jourdan shoes appear to use the color red only on the souls of the shoes. No response to the Complaint has yet been filed by the Defendants.

 Claiming color as a trademark is certainly possible, but can be tricky as noted in our earlier blog on the subject.

We will keep you updated as this new case unfolds. Stay tuned. Continue Reading Louboutin Sees Red Again: Protecting Color as a Trademark

Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

In its recent decision in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc., the Second Circuit held there was no “per se rule that would deny protection for use of a single color as a trademark in a particular industrial context.”  The Court found that the single color red on the sole of a women’s shoe that contrasted with the color on the upper portion of the shoe could be protected as a trademark in the fashion industry. A Federal District Court in California ruled recently, that a company’s use of the color orange for markings and text on its medical syringe could not be protected as a trademark since the color was “functional” when applied to that product. It determined that the color orange was functional in the medical industry because it signifies that a device is for oral use. So, how does this color-as-a-trademark work? Continue Reading When Can You Claim A Color As Your Trademark?

Written by Joseph DiCioccio The Second Circuit recently issued an opinion in the Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent trademark case.  To refresh your memory, Louboutin, the high-end women’s shoe designer, had secured a U.S. trademark registration for the color red as used on the outsoles of women’s shoes.  Yves Saint Laurent had been selling shoes with similar red soles, and after initial trademark infringement settlement talks between the parties failed, Louboutin sued for, among other claims, trademark infringement.  The Southern District of New York held that a single color could never serve as a trademark in the fashion industry and thus denied Louboutin’s motion for a preliminary injunction (that would have stopped the sale of the offending shoes during the trial).  Louboutin appealed the decision.  In its recent opinion, the Second Circuit struck down the district court’s holding and determined that a color can, under certain circumstances, function as a trademark, even in the fashion industry.  Continue Reading Louboutin Wins Round Two Against Yves Saint Laurent in Fight Over Red Soles