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  • Court Rules Against Trademark Claim Over Food FlavorFri, 10/24/2014 - 12:46

    A Texas judge ruled this week that the flavor of Russo’s New York Pizzeria’s pizza was not entitled to trademark protection. Russo’s had sued another restaurant, Gina’s Italian Kitchen, for trademark infringement, claiming it had copied the taste of its food, using its recipes, suppliers, and allegedly hacked documents.

    Judge Gregg Costa dismissed the trademark and trade dress claims, calling them “half-baked.” Russo’s New York Pizzeria had claimed that its “specially sourced branded ingredients and innovative preparation and preservation techniques contribute to the distinctive flavor” of the food it serves. Judge Costa’s ruling said, “it is unlikely that flavors can ever be inherently distinctive, because they do not ‘automatically’ suggest a product’s source.” He went on write: “Functional product features are not protectable.”

    Unlike flavor, Judge Costa wrote that the plating of food could be protectable under trade dress. “When plating is either inherently distinctive or has acquired a secondary meaning, when it serves no functional purpose, and when there is a likelihood of consumer confusion, it may be possible to prove an infringement claim.”

    In case you’re not hungry after reading that, there was more pizza-related trademark news this week. The owner of New York City’s Grimaldi’s pizzeria filed suit against the owners of Patsy Grimaldi’s restaurant in Shanghai, China, which happens to feature signage similar to its Brooklyn location, along with a similar menu. Even a listing in Timeout Shanghai mentions the commonalities between the two restaurants: “Despite appearances, this restaurant is not affiliated with the New York pizzeria of the same name.”

    What do you think about the court’s ruling on the trademark protection of flavors?

  • Trademark Fight Over “Eau Rouge” Pits Race Track Against CarmakerThu, 10/23/2014 - 12:11

    Automaker Nissan’s effort to trademark the name of its concept car, the “Eau Rouge,” has caused some consternation on the auto racing circuit. “Eau Rouge” happens to be the name of one of Formula One racing’s most famous turns at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

    Nissan’s U.S. trademark application in International Class 12 (automobiles) will be published for opposition on November 4 and media reports say that the Belgian racetrack will contest it. Pierre-Alain Thibaut, director of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, told Bloomberg: “It’s like they want to steal the brand from the circuit … We consider it exactly the opposite of fair play.” Spa-Francorchamps owns the European Union trademark for the Eau Rouge name.

    The Eau Rouge (or Red Water) is an Infiniti Q50 prototype that Nissan is still testing before it decides whether to actually put the car into production. Automobile Magazine, which called the car “quite the Frankenstein,” quoted Nissan’s vice president of vehicle design and development as saying, “There are still many questions about the business case.” Infiniti’s President Johan de Nysschen told Motor Trend that the price of the car could reach $100,000.

    Take a listen to what a 560bhp engine sounds like:

  • Millennials Want Brands to Be Their FriendsMon, 10/20/2014 - 20:06

    Way back in 2010, we wrote about a study that showed that Millennials didn’t feel particularly strongly about … anything. At that time, they didn’t have much love or hate for any particular brands. Apparently that’s changed because a new study shows they’re now feeling strong connections to brands, especially those that listen to them and help them become a better person, just as if brands they were friends.

    “This generation is looking for brands that help them become something more than their regular selves. Provide a high-quality product or service that helps them look cool and Millennials will return the favor with their recommendations and purchasing power,” according to Norty Cohen, founder and CEO of Moosylvania. Millennials now favor brands that promote positivity and social responsibility.

    Featured at the top of the “most beloved” brands in the 2015 Top 50 Millennial Brand Ranking Report by Moosylvania were Nike, Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Walmart.Some of the newcomers on this year’s list include fast food chains Wendy’s and Pizza Hut, along with Sprint, Chanel, and Honda. Dropping out of the Top 50 were Facebook, Old Navy, and PlayStation, among others.

    The study highlighted that Millennials enjoy a lot of personal interaction and brand experiences. Moosylvania’s Cohen said: “Millennials are not just consumers – they’re friends. They trust friends who listen to them, are open and honest, remember their names, are consistent and stay true to who they are.”

    A study released this past summer revealed that Millennials are largely responsible for making private label or store brands “cool.” That’s because most of them are on a budget and don’t connect “cool” with luxury brands. But it’s important to remember that Millennials are responsible for nearly $1.3 trillion in consumer spending. As Forbes pointed out, that cool private label could be a $1 Burt’s Bees product or a $50 Sephora product.

    So, what’s up next up for brands? Most likely figuring out how to make friends with Generation Z (“The New Silent Generation”).