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  • Denver Brewery Changes Name Over Threat of Legal ActionThu, 08/28/2014 - 21:01

    Just three months after its launch, the Denver Pearl Brewing Company is going to change its name, following complaints from two other breweries that claimed the company’s name sounded too similar to their own brands, according to The Denver Post.

    The company’s owner and general manager, Colby Rankin, commented that before selecting a name for the brewery, he sought advice from lawyers and conducted his own research. But Pabst Brewing Company — manufacturer of beer under the brands Pearl and Pearl Light, distributed in Texas and Oklahoma — informed Rankin that it may start legal action if his brewery continued to operate under its current name.

    Meanwhile, a local brewery that Rankin declined to name, had disputed the use of “Denver” in the name of the product, claiming it had the sole right to use the name of the city in craft beer. According to The Denver Post, the local brewery in question was Denver Beer Co., whose co-owner Patrick Crawford told the newspaper that his company had been engaged in talks with Denver Pearl Brewing Company over the name issue. Crawford said that representatives of both companies had discussed the matter — over beers — but there had been no plans for any legal action.

    Rankin has already chosen a new name for his brewery, which will be revealed at a special renaming party in September. He said that this time there will be no legal disputes concerning the name, since he’s done more thorough research this time.

    There have been quite a few naming disputes in the world of craft beers recently (e.g., Anheuser-Busch v. Natty Greene’s). What’s the name of your favorite craft beer?

  • KIND and Clif Bar Involved in Trade Dress Infringement CaseWed, 08/27/2014 - 19:30

    Healthy snacks producers KIND LLC and Clif Bar & Company met in court to settle an alleged trade dress infringement regarding the packaging of their respective snack bars, Lexology reports.

    According to KIND, its unique packaging design incorporates a transparent front panel which allows customers to see the product itself. When KIND noticed Clif’s Mojo bars using similar see-through packaging, the company sued for trade dress infringement. Clif, in turn, claims that KIND’s packaging is not distinctive.

    Based on initial evidence in the case, the court denied KIND’s request to temporarily prohibit Clif from selling its Mojo bars. KIND has appealed the ruling. The court highlighted many other companies in the snack-bar industry using elements similar to KIND’s product packaging. It also said the transparent packing serves a “functional purpose,” allowing consumers to see the product and its ingredients.

    As the law states, packaging that serves such a serviceable purpose is not considered able to serve a source identification purpose as well. The court recognized, however, evidence that Clif’s marketing team identified KIND’s product packing as “best in class packaging” and sought to emulate its high standards.

    It remains to be seen whether KIND will win the appeal. What this case highlights is the importance of doing due diligence when you’re creating distinctive product packaging that can be protected under trademark law.

    kindclif

  • NgTLD Update: Getting The Most Out Of The TMCH With URDPs And BlocksWed, 08/27/2014 - 00:13

    Think of the new gTLD space as one of those board games in which your goal is to control the most territory. Each square is a potential domain name relevant to your trademark. How can you expand your zone of control? ICANN created the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) to help, and many Corsearch clients are using it. We’d like to share some tips with you about how to use the TMCH as effectively as possible.

    About 1,200 new gTLDs have been applied for, not counting ‘.brand’ TLDs which are restricted to the applicant (e.g., .YAHOO, .IBM, etc.). Others are restricted (to a profession, for example) so that they are irrelevant to you. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that “only” (!) 1,000 TLDs are of any interest to you. That gives the TMCH registrant some degree of preference over 1,000 potential domains. That’s why you registered in the TMCH.

    But are you aware of ‘abused’ labels? Those old UDRPs gathering dust in your file cabinet can be used to add an abused label to your TMCH mark. If your UDRP shows that someone once abused, for example, a .com domain with a typo of your brand, you can protect that variant in new TLDs as well at a fraction of the cost of the original TMCH registration. If you add a single abused label, your “zone of control” extends over another thousand potential domain registrations; if you add 10 labels, 10,000. You can add up to 50 abused labels (though you would not want to use up your entire allotment on one mark). Granted, most of those domains would not be registered anyway, and many you might not ever care if they are, but some of them will be important.

    Another tool is the DPML (Domain Protected Marks List) block. These are offered by the bigger registries to prevent registration of domains matching TMCH marks in all that registry’s TLDs (unless the block holder chooses to register, of course). The exact number of TLDs changes as contested TLDs are awarded to one applicant or another. Industry leader Donuts’ DPML currently covers over 100 TLDs and they anticipate coverage in 200. Rightside Registry is number two, with 30 TLDs and counting. Rival Minds + Machines will offer a DPML for its 100-odd TLDs as soon as ICANN gives its blessing. Well over 300 potential domain names could be blocked by a single TMCH registration plus three DPMLs. That’s a lot of potential domains that can never see daylight, clutter your inbox, or demand your time!

    Many Corsearch clients have already used blocks, but not all of them are aware of a lesser-known aspect of DPMLs. It is widely assumed that the block works exactly like the TMCH (i.e., only for exact matches, plus exceptions for blank spaces and abused labels). But you can use a TMCH registration to get a block that includes your exact match plus other terms. For example, SMITH in the TMCH can be used to block mySMITH & SMITHtoys — but not SMIIIITH because it is not an exact match. This does not override other TMCH registrants’ rights, of course, if your extended block conflicts with another TMCH registration. But it will serve to stop registrants without a TMCH mark.

    The new gTLDs still represent a steep learning curve and a potential headache, but we hope we’ve shown you some ways to cope. (Just in time for ICANN to announce the schedule for the second round of new TLD applications next year…)

    In September, Corsearch will present a webinar on best practices for using the TMCH. We’ll also discuss the state of the new gTLD space — the least and most successful TLDs, examples of real-world new gTLD domains in use, and coming trends. Keep an eye out for the date, which we’ll announce soon. If you’re interested in learning more, please let us know at NewGTLDs@wolterskluwer.com.