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  • Oscar® Trademarks: Will You Be Watching Sunday?Fri, 02/20/2015 - 14:44

    The clock is ticking down toward the start of the annual Oscar broadcast on Sunday when we’ll find out who the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) chose to win the coveted film awards.

    AMPAS owns many trademarks related to the annual event, including Oscar, Oscars, Academy Award, Academy Awards, Oscar Night, AMPAS, and the Oscar design mark, and it rigorously protects them. The organization publishes legal regulations regarding use of the marks on its website and they cover everything from prohibiting use of the word “Oscar” to describe any other awards, to size guidelines for miniature replicas of the Oscar statuette.

    We wondered what other trademark activity may be happening around the event. There aren’t any registered trademarks directly related to the titles of any of the Best Picture nominees, even though we did find several Birdman and Whiplash trademarks. Most of the Birdman trademarks registered in the United States belong to Chris “Birdman” Andersen of the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat. Whiplash is the name of a wine made by Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, the same vineyard you may remember we wrote about last year when it was involved in a trademark dispute over its brand name with the makers of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Mattel, Inc. owns trademarks for Whiplash in the toy category. Back in the 1980s the company made action figures of the Masters of the Universe reptilian character named Whiplash who uses his tail as a weapon.

    Moving on to the Best Song nominees, a writer of “Everything is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie” has registered a trademark for the song’s title. Shawn Michael Patterson, credited as a nominee for the song along with Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, and The Lonely Island, registered the trademark in the categories of apparel and entertainment services in December 2014.

    And in other Oscar-related news, The Hollywood Reporter has an update on the long-running cybersquatting lawsuit brought by AMPAS against GoDaddy that could go to trial soon. The Academy alleges that customers of GoDaddy were allowed to buy domains like and and then collect revenue from GoDaddy advertising partners on a pay-per-click basis.

  • Corsearch Tops World Trademark Review Survey Among Trademark Search ProvidersWed, 02/18/2015 - 21:28

    We’re proud to announce the World Trademark Review annual global survey of in-house corporate and law firm trademark counsel ranked Corsearch first in all of the performance measurements of the trademark search category, as well as in overall provider rating. The company also topped two of four performance categories for trademark watching services.

    Nearly 800 trademark practitioners rated service providers in trademark Searching and Watching. Corsearch ranked #1 in the trademark search category, and took the top spot in relevance of records received, usability and delivery timing of reports, and linguistic capability. Survey participants also chose Corsearch as the company they would most likely recommend to colleagues.

    Tobias Hartmann, General Manager of Corsearch noted: “We know that we are only as good as our last search, our last watch notice. Ensuring that we identify relevant risks quickly for our customers without surrounding those risks with a lot of noise that distracts them is our job #1.”

    “At a time when budgets remain tight, a crucial question to ask is whether you are getting true value for money from your suppliers,” said Trevor Little, editor of World Trademark Review. “An equally important consideration is whether you are getting what you actually need, rather than what suppliers think you need or find easiest to supply.”

    You can read the full press release here. The complete Global Trademark Survey was published in the February/March 2015 issue as part of the 53rd edition of World Trademark Review.

  • Sriracha Never Trademarked, Now Considered GenericWed, 02/18/2015 - 13:17

    If you like spicy food, you most likely know what Sriracha is.

    What you might not know is that the developer of the popular condiment in the United States never filed a trademark application and now he’s not only facing fierce competition, he’s witnessed his product name go from new in the American market to generic.

    The Los Angeles Times wrote about the plight of David Tran, the Vietnamese refugee who built the Huy Fong Foods, Inc. Sriracha empire from scratch, and then opened the door for anyone and everyone to share in the product’s popularity. Huy Fong brought in $60 million in sales in 2013 and was expected to keep growing by 20 percent annually.

    The hot sauce has expanded beyond the condiment aisle in grocery stores to Sriracha popcorn, potato chips, and even vodka. Some of these Sriracha-flavored products are manufactured by major brands like Heinz and Frito-Lay. Tran makes no money from those products and claims he has no regrets. He told the Los Angeles Times he considers it free advertising.

    So why didn’t he register a trademark when he started his company 35 years ago? Tran says he was advised not to because the chili sauce’s name comes from a geographic location (the city of Si Racha in Thailand).

    Now the McIlhenny Co., makers of Tabasco, is getting ready to distribute its Sriracha sauce nationwide and Tran is worried about the new competition, even though it’s probably too late for him to claim the trademark. Over the years more than 20 trademark applications for Sriracha have been filed with the USPTO and none of them have been granted because the agency says the term is too generic (remember zipper, aspirin, and … heroin?).

    Tran has trademarked his rooster logo and bottle design. And recently, his legal team has been busy going after knock-offs made in China, and inking licensing deals with companies that place a value on aligning with “the real thing,” like Rogue Ales’ Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer.

    We’ve already mentioned a few … tell us in the Comments section what your favorite examples of brand names that have become genericized are. Here’s a list of 41 examples from Mental Floss to get your memory flowing.

    And if you’re one of those spicy food lovers who think you already know everything there is to know about Sriracha, check out Thrillist’s “14 Things You Didn’t Know About Sriracha, Including Its Proper Pronunciation.”