Awe, Man! Don’t Take Away The Cool Stuff!

AWE, MAN! DON’T TAKE AWAY THE COOL STUFF!

Those cool new car features that allow integrated on board car cameras and multi-purpose navigation devices might be short lived.  The music industry groups are suing Ford, GM and other car manufacturers for copyright infringement and failing to pay music royalties when users play music on these multipurpose navigation devices.  There are also pending patent infringement actions over these technologies.  Specifically, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies sued the auto giants and their suppliers Denso International America Inc.  and Clarion Corp of America for violation of the Audio Home Recording Act for distributing music copying devices that did not have serial copy management systems and failure to pay royalties on these infringement systems marketed as “digital jukeboxes.”  It is a hard balance to achieve – free or low-cost consumer access to content against the musical artist’s right to earn a living from their creative talent and efforts.  Hopefully these pending cases won’t interfere with consumer access to these truly amazing technologies.

 

            Tracy_Jong About Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong has been an attorney for more than 20 years,      representing restaurants, bars, and craft beverage manufacturers in a wide array of legal matters. She is also a licensed patent attorney.

Her book Everything You Need To Know About Obtaining and Maintaining a New York Retail Liquor License: The Definitive Guide to Navigating the State Liquor Authority will be available next month on Amazon.com as a softcover and Kindle e-book.

Her legal column is available in The Equipped Brewer, a publication giving business advice, trends, and vendor reviews to help craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries build brands and succeed financially.

She also maintains a website and blog with practical information on legal and business issues affecting the industry. Follow her, sign up for her free firm app or monthly newsletter.

www.TracyJongLawFirm.com

TJong@TracyJongLawFirm.com

Facebook: Tracy Jong Law Firm

Twitter:      @TJLawFirm

LinkedIn:   Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong Law Firm

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CHOP Confusion

Rutgers University applied to register “Chop” for various merchandise after its first bowl game. The winning season’s mantra was “just keep chopping wood.” The University’s application met with opposition from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who had used the CHOP acronym for more than a century. Some of the goods and services are likely to overlap and some are likely to be different. The proximity of the two organizations within 100 miles of one another will certainly play a role. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out.

Any predictions? Is there a likelihood of confusion?

 

rutgers 1childrens hospitalof PArutgers 2

 

             Tracy_JongAbout Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong has been an attorney for more than 20 years,      representing restaurants, bars, and craft beverage manufacturers in a wide array of legal matters. She is also a licensed patent attorney.

Her book Everything You Need To Know About Obtaining and Maintaining a New York Retail Liquor License: The Definitive Guide to Navigating the State Liquor Authority will be available next month on Amazon.com as a softcover and Kindle e-book.

Her legal column is available in The Equipped Brewer, a
publication giving business advice, trends, and vendor reviews to help craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries build brands and succeed financially.

She also maintains a website and blog with practical information on legal and business issues affecting the industry. Follow her, sign up for her free firm app or monthly newsletter.

www.TracyJongLawFirm.com

TJong@TracyJongLawFirm.com

Facebook: Tracy Jong Law Firm

Twitter:      @TJLawFirm

LinkedIn:   Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong Law Firm

 

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Information is Power

Information is Power

Information is power. When you are adopting a new product name, you need information to make informed decisions and minimize the risk of problems down the line. Problems can, and generally do, cost thousands of dollars and negatively impact all of your efforts to successfully launch the new product. A simple trademark search can provide you all of the information you need to make informed decisions about your branding.

A professional trademark search does more than check the USPTO database for the exact name (a direct hit search). Did you know there are 50 state databases that must be checked as well? Did you know that unregistered marks can be a barrier to registration? A professional trademark search checks state and federal trademark databases as well as the 50 state corporate databases and major domain name registrars. Not only is the exact mark searched, but also ones that might be confusingly similar. For example, When I searched TruVu as a potential mark, my search criteria included “true”, “tru”, “vu”, “vue”, “*tru”, “tru*”, “*vu”, “vu*”, “view”, truth”, and many others. The use of the wildcard “*” allowed me to expand the search to include larger words or word combinations that include the partial root.

There is another step that you may be lacking in a DIY Search: Analyzing the identified marks to determine if they pose a barrier to registration or not. There are many factors and principles of law to apply while making the evaluation. Working with a professional trademark searcher, you can obtain critical information to help shape your brand strategy. Information is power. Get accurate information to make sound business decisions. Guessing can be costly down the road.

 

 

             Tracy_JongAbout Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong has been an attorney for more than 20 years,      representing restaurants, bars, and craft beverage manufacturers in a wide array of legal matters. She is also a licensed patent attorney.

Her book Everything You Need To Know About Obtaining and Maintaining a New York Retail Liquor License: The Definitive Guide to Navigating the State Liquor Authority will be available next month on Amazon.com as a softcover and Kindle e-book.

Her legal column is available in The Equipped Brewer, a publication giving business advice, trends, and vendor reviews to help craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries build brands and succeed financially.

She also maintains a website and blog with practical information on legal and business issues affecting the industry. Follow her, sign up for her free firm app or monthly newsletter.

www.TracyJongLawFirm.com

TJong@TracyJongLawFirm.com

Facebook: Tracy Jong Law Firm

Twitter:      @TJLawFirm

LinkedIn:   Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong Law Firm

 

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Federal Craft Beverage Trademark Protection May Be In Peril

Federal Craft Beverage Trademark Protection May Be In Peril

The “Flatizza” mark was applied for by Readi Spaghetti, a restaurant in Washington. Two months later the Subway franchise Doctor’s Associates Inc. applied for the same mark and filed an opposition to Readi Spaghetti’s application arguing the single restaurant location did not qualify as interstate commerce. It won. The TTAB held that Yelp reviews, internet advertising, and social media activity did not impact interstate commerce enough to qualify for federal registration. Neither did a location close to major interstate highways. Doctor’s Associates Inc. v Janco LLC, Opposition 91217243.

This case reflects a clear change in Trademark Office policy. It casts doubt on whether craft beverage producers who don’t yet distribute their product in other states can federally register their marks. The TTAB proceeding noted several things about the evidence of interstate commerce used by Readi Spaghetti:

  • There was a no proof customers used the interstate highways to travel to the restaurant
  • There was no proof of actual access of the website or social media by out of state residents
  • There was no proof any customers were from out of state

It is too early to tell what impact the decision will have because it is non-precedential. However, I am recommending to my clients to act conservatively or as if they need a “plan B”. Here’s my takeaway, albeit it could be overkill:

  • Ask your online reviewers to leave their city and state
  • Document Google or Yahoo directions to your establishment from nearby interstate roads
  • Ask customers who your establishment where they are from, and document out-of-state visitors with name, address, and date of visit
  • Require customers who follow you or want discount coupons to leave a city and state in their account identity (name and street address can be anonymous)

Trademarks are one of a craft beverage producer’s most important assets. We encourage craft beverage producers in this situation to consult with trademark counsel for their unique circumstances and to create a custom brand protection strategy.

A special “shout out” or thank you to Scott Slavik for reporting this decision on Law 360.

 

 

 

            Tracy_Jong About Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong has been an attorney for more than 20 years, representing restaurants, bars, and craft beverage manufacturers in a wide array of legal matters. She is also a licensed patent attorney.

Her book Everything You Need To Know About Obtaining and Maintaining a New York Retail Liquor License: The Definitive Guide to Navigating the State Liquor Authority will be available next month on Amazon.com as a softcover and Kindle e-book.

Her legal column is available in The Equipped Brewer, a publication giving business advice, trends, and vendor reviews to help craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries build brands and succeed financially.

She also maintains a website and blog with practical information on legal and business issues affecting the industry. Follow her, sign up for her free firm app or monthly newsletter.

www.TracyJongLawFirm.com

TJong@TracyJongLawFirm.com

Facebook: Tracy Jong Law Firm

Twitter:      @TJLawFirm

LinkedIn:   Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong Law Firm

 

 

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Beware of Trademark Scams!

Our law firm has received a number of inquiries related to recent trademark scam. OneScreenshot (68) of our business clients, Lugia’s Ice Cream, has kindly sent us documents to show all of our clients. These scams will pull your contact information from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) database and send invoices that appear to be official.

Please do not pay any fees related to your trademark applications before contacting our office. We handle your case from start to finish and will contact you if there are any additional filing fees and explain what they are for.

If you are not a client of our firm or feel that you have been a victim of one of these scams, please do not hesitate to reach out to Christopher Hinton (team3@tracyjonglawfirm) with any questions regarding your trademarks.

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Blondes don’t always have more fun (or trademarks)!

Blondes don’t always have more fun (or trademarks)!

The Traveler Beer Co.Consent or co-existence agreements may no longer be sufficient to overcome a refusal based or likelihood of confusion. A co-existence agreement is used when two businesses have similar marks but in good faith don’t believe confusions between the brands is likely. In the agreement, both parties agree to various conditions to ensure no consumer confusion- like color and imagery used in product packaging and other terms.

In February 2016, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling that a “Time Traveler Blonde” beer brand was too similar to a “Time Traveler” beer to be registered as a trademark — despite a co-existence agreement between the two brewers Bay State Brewing Company Inc. and A&S Brewing Collaborative LLC.

The private consent agreement was executed for Bay State to register its mark. A&S did not object to the similar-sounding registration so long as it was used with different trade dress and other restrictions. The Trademark Examiner and court, however, did not agree that the consent agreement went far enough to protect the public from confusion. Although the consent agreement had geographic limitations, it still allowed both beers to be sold under near-identical names in both New York and New England.

The consent agreement contained restrictions on the product labeling, but the court concluded that still left the door open to confusion because the labels are not always seen by customers who order beer on draft in a bar or restaurant. The court noted that beer is a product often purchased sight unseen. The court also weighed other standard factors weighing toward confusion — identical product types, often purchased as an impulse buy, and sold to the same consumers in the same trade channels. The last factor the court considered was the absence of a limited geographic claim or a co-existence application.

In re to Bay State Brewing Company, Inc., case number 85826258, at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. (Feb 25, 2016)

This trademark issue is more common than you would think. With the boom in craft beverages, producers are often creating similarly named craft beverages and finding cease and desist letters in their email or mailbox. If you have any questions about your company’s branding consult with your legal advisor to identify and understand any potential pitfalls and compliance issues.

 

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AWE, MAN! DON’T TAKE AWAY THE COOL STUFF!

Those cool new car features that allow integrated on board car cameras and multi-purpose navigation devices might be short lived.  The music industry groups are suing Ford, GM and other car manufacturers for copyright infringement and failing to pay music royalties when users play music on these multipurpose navigation devices.  There are also pending patent infringement actions over these technologies.  Specifically, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies sued the auto giants and their suppliers Denso International America Inc.  and Clarion Corp of America for violation of the Audio Home Recording Act for distributing music copying devices that did not have serial copy management systems and failure to pay royalties on these infringement systems marketed as “digital jukeboxes.”  It is a hard balance to achieve – free or low-cost consumer access to content against the musical artist’s right to earn a living from their creative talent and efforts.  Hopefully these pending cases won’t interfere with consumer access to these truly amazing technologies.

Posted in Copyright, Patent, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Czech Us Out!

I can hardly believe it has been two months since I first set foot in Prague, the month just prior to the onset of the Syrian migrant crisis in Europe.

For those of you who know me, you probably already know I had the pleasure to spend two weeks this summer in one of the gems of Europe, Prague in the Czech Republic, with my son, Ryan.  My 12 year-old hockey player wanted to attend hockey camp.  Sports define him. He expresses himself on the ice/field. He was hoping for a trip to Florida, but when I looked at some of the summer hockey camps available, I discovered an opportunity of a lifetime. For the price of a local camp, he could attend a world-class camp and experience another culture.  And, I get a mini working vacation.

I am glad we chose this camp. Ryan met children from around the world and lived with the other campers eating local food and doing local things during his free time. Language was not a barrier. He actually liked the food. Any parent knows picky pre-teens rarely like anything new.

Ryan met some expatriates from Pennsylvania. He learned what a small world it truly is and made some friends I hope he keeps in touch with – he already made plans to meet again next summer at camp.

Ryan spent five days at the Hvezda ice rink with his campmates from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, England, US and other regions of the world.  Out of a total of about 700 active National Hockey League (NHL) players, about 39 are Czech-born.  To be sure, Czech Republic is a country of only 10 million and outside of North America.  Clearly, they must have done something right about hockey. This is a small country, but it has a global impact. As a patent practitioner, I learned about the inventive contributions of Czech Republic.  For the relatively small population and economy, it has materially contributed to global technology advancement.  We also had the opportunity to ride Segways, an American invention, around the City of Prague.  Not an average day at home and a cool way to test iconic inventions.

A few of the patents granted to Czech citizens include US7,895,933 entitling “Pistol Conversion from An Automatic Weapon,” US8,176,833 entitling “Firearm Receiver with Extended Bridge,” and US 8,191,298 entitling “Magazine Quick Release Blocking Apparatus and Method.”  In 2014, 310 US patents were issued to at least one Czech co-inventor.  This list shows a steady increase from the past years:

2002 – 48 patents

2003 – 63 patents

2004 – 55 patents

2005 – 57 patents

2006 – 55 patents

2007 – 62 patents

2008 – 76 patents

2009 – 92 patents

2010 – 127 patents

2011 – 150 patents

2012 – 189 patents

2013 – 229 patents

It’s been truly a pleasure and honor working with all of you, my dear clients  from Washington state to Kiev, Ukraine on patenting your inventions.  Don’t forget to continue to “Czech” us out for your future IP needs!

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Finger Lakes Innovation Hot Spot

FLI1FLI2

Posted in Copyright, Enforcement, Licensing, Patent, TJLF in the Community, Trademark, Uncategorized, What's New in IP | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Calling all Inventors!

$2,000,000 and $1,000,000 prizes from NIH for inventor of a wearable device with a biosensor to track alcohol consumption in real time. Short version of Rules:

  • Inconspicuous
  • Low profile
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Can be jewelry, clothing or anything in contact with human body
  • Non-invasive and real time readings
  • Submission by December 31, 2015

Judging based on accuracy of data collection, functionality, privacy safeguards and consumer appeal.

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