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Entries in Trademark (5)

Friday
Oct122012

Starbucks Objects to Chicago Dog Day Care's Logo

Courtesy Andrea McCarthy-Grzybek(CHICAGO) -- Coffee giant Starbucks is in a dogfight with Starbarks, a fledgling canine day care center outside of Chicago, over its name and logo's resemblance to the java chain's trademark emblem.

Andrea McCarthy-Grzybek, 46, who co-owns the doggie day care in Algonquin, Ill., with her husband Al, 44, said she'll change their business name and logo if she's pushed, but can't afford to pursue the case further in court.

In April, only a month after Starbarks' grand opening, she received a cease and desist letter from Starbucks, demanding they alter all similar aspects of their business -- name, logo and color -- or face legal action.

Although she has several new names in mind, McCarthy-Grzybek hopes she won't have to use any of them. For financial reasons, she said it would be a much bigger burden to change the name rather than just the sign, having already spent nearly $2,000 in legal fees.

"I never said it [Starbarks] was a play on the [Starbucks] name, ever," she said.  "We have a dog business -- I think it's a catchy name because for our place, it means the stars are the dogs -- that's all I meant by it."

After consulting with lawyers who believed they could win the case if they chose to fight the coffee chain in court, McCarthy-Grzybek decided against it.

"The risk of not winning is scary," she said.  "Then you'd have to pay the coffee giant's lawyers, and that could be one lawyer or it could be a hundred lawyers.  It's crazy; I'd never do anything like that."

Since then, business at Starbarks has remained unchanged.  In response to the controversy, a banner was erected outside the daycare reading "The coffee giant wants us to change our name and logo.  Voice your opinion on Facebook."

Their page has received mixed comments.  One user said copyright infringement was evident, while another claimed this was just another case of "bullying small businesses."  The banner will be taken down after three months in accordance with local regulations, but McCarthy-Grzybek said Starbucks has already called a few times requesting they take it down sooner.

Zack Hutson, a spokesperson for Starbucks, said they have a "legal obligation to protect our intellectual property," adding that if the Starbucks trademark isn't protected from infringement, the company risks losing their exclusive rights to it.

"We've made significant investments over the past 41 years to protect our trade," he said.  "As a responsible trademark owner, we must take the necessary steps to protect it."

Hutson added that they prefer to resolve trademark disputes "informally and amicably" and that they hope to achieve that in this case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

Ryan Lochte to Trademark ‘Jeah’ Catchphrase

Adam Pretty/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Swimmer Ryan Lochte didn’t just win gold at the London Olympics, he won worldwide fame as well.

And that fame is about to pay off.  Lochte applied on Aug. 1 to trademark his now-signature catchphrase, ‘Jeah,’ according to documents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Lochte plans to put ‘Jeah’ on sunglasses, clothing, jewelry, DVDs, key chains, trading cards, calendars, hats, posters, mugs, water bottles, swimsuits, swim goggles and swim caps. Looks like someone is trying to create a brand. Could a trademark on his Team USA grill be next?

Lochte said he came up with ‘Jeah’ after hearing the rapper Young Jeezy, who says ‘Cheah’ in a lot of his songs.  Lochte says to him, it means good or happy.

He also scored a guest-starring role on an upcoming episode of the CW’s teen drama 90210.

But with fame come lots of press interviews, and Lochte isn’t a natural there. Along with awkward pauses and occasional stuttering, he tends to say “like” a lot, or gives simple, one-word answers.

Fingers crossed he can act a little better than he interviews.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul022012

Apple Settles with Chinese Company over iPad Trademark Rights

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple has finally settled its two-year legal battle with Proview International for ownership of the “iPad” name in China.

The two had been embroiled in a tangled web of lawsuits and countersuits disputing claims of infringement, defamation and fraud since 2009.  The settlement mitigates Apple’s concerns about blocked iPad sales in China, and may come in the nick of time for LCD screen manufacturer Proview, which filed for bankruptcy in March.

The Guangdong High People’s Court announced in a statement Monday that the two companies had come to some resolution over ownership of the IPAD trademark to the tune of $60 million.

Xie Xianghui, a lawyer for Proview, affirmed that “this is a result that is acceptable to both sides.”  However, Xie mentioned that the company had settled for much less than the $400 million it had hoped for, feeling pressure to settle debts.  Xie also stated that even Apple’s settlement, nearly four times the amount it had originally offered, might not be enough to stave the looming threat of Proview’s bankruptcy.

In 2000, one year before Apple announced the development of its iPad, Proview registered the IPAD trademark in Taiwan, following suit in China, Europe, Indonesia, Mexico, and other international markets in the next four years.  After Proview’s line of tablet computers bearing the name floundered, Proview Electronics, the company’s Taiwanese subsidiary, sold the trademark in 2009 to American company IP Application Development (IPAD) for 35,000 pounds ($54,800).

Proview Electronics claimed in its lawsuit that it did not realize that “IP Application Development” was an Apple shell company, which was in the process of purchasing the rights to the IPAD trademark internationally before launching product sales across the globe.  Meanwhile, the Chinese trademark office rejected Apple’s attempts to transfer rights to the trademark in mainland China.

While Taiwan-based Proview Electronics sold Apple rights to the IPAD name in many different countries, Apple soon discovered that the rights to the name in mainland China were not included in that purchase and that a different Proview branch, Shenzhen-based Proview Technology, still maintained rights to the trademark on mainland China.  Once Apple went to market with the iPad, Proview Technology asserted their trademark ownership and demanded $800 million for transfer of rights.

Apple, which had started selling iPads as soon as it had purchased the trademark, proceeded to sue Proview Technology in China for continuing to claim ownership of the IPAD name.  After the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court ruled in December of last year that Apple did not have rights to the name in China, Proview countersued Apple in the U.S., asserting that the company was fraudulent in acquiring the trademark through a dummy corporation. Proview also applied to local customs to ban Apple iPad sales in two major Chinese cities, threatening to push for a national ban if Apple did not compensate the company at the steep base sum of 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion).

The lawsuit was dismissed in May after Apple argued that it had purchased ownership to the name in 10 different countries.  Since then, the two companies had been in court-sponsored mediation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

NBA Top Draft Pick Anthony Davis Trademarks His Unibrow

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Since he began his freshman year at the University of Kentucky, teammates exhorted basketball star Anthony Davis to shave his unibrow. They failed. A year later, as the expected top pick in this week's NBA draft, Davis is aiming to cash in on his refusal.

In anticipation of his imminent rise to national stardom, Davis trademarked the phrases "Raise the Brow" and "Fear the Brow." Widely expected to be drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in Thursday's draft, Davis said he saw profit potential in leaving his eyebrows connected.

"I don't want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it," Davis told CNBC. "Me and my family decided to trademark it because it's very unique."

Davis will not even consider splitting his eyebrow in two as he begins racking up endorsements, he told ESPN, a partner of ABC News.

"It changes none whatsoever when I'm in the NBA," he said. "I'm not going to change who I am. It's me."

NCAA rules prevented Davis from exploiting his unibrow's brand value while he was playing for Kentucky, and the school's athletic department kept a tight leash on merchandise celebrating his uncommon facial feature.

Jason Schlafer, the athletic department's marketing director, said he sent about a half dozen cease-and-desist letters and placed twice as many phone calls to vendors who were "sprinting up to the line," close to infringing on the Kentucky Wildcats' trademarks.

At first, he said, he was concerned that T-shirts that said "Bow to the Brow" and "Brow Down" would offend Davis and his family because they, "highlighted what may be perceived as a negative feature."

"But then we saw his mother in a 'Fear the Brow' T-shirt, and she had penciled in a unibrow on her face," Schafler said.

Davis played just one season for the Wildcats before becoming a nationally discussed NBA prospect. One of only four freshmen ever to win the NCAA's Most Outstanding Player award, Davis led the Wildcats to their eighth NCAA championship in the 2011-12 season.

On June 15, he signed Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group as his agent. Reached Tuesday, Tellem declined to comment.

Davis's only current endorsement is a draft-night deal with Sprint's NBA Android app.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun142011

Apple's iCloud Sued by iCloud Communications over Name

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- When you name your company after something as common as an apple, and many of your products after common words preceded by the letter "i" -- iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. -- you're eventually bound to run into someone who's had a similar idea.

So it is that Apple, Inc., perhaps one of history's most successful marketers of consumer technology, has been sued by iCloud Communications, a Phoenix company that provides telephone services over the Internet.  ICloud Communications says Apple's newly-announced iCloud storage service for music, pictures and other content infringes on its trademark, and already has had confused customers calling to see if it had been bought by Apple.

It's not the first time Apple has been in this position.  In 2007 when it announced the iPhone, it turned out the name was already owned by Cisco Systems, Inc.  Even the name Apple has been contentious; it was most famously used as a record label by a little rock group called The Beatles.

"Apple's announcement and launch of its 'iCloud' cloud computing service appears to be just one more example of Apple's 'act first and worry about the consequences later' approach to trademark use," said iCloud Communications in its legal filing.  "Even the most cursory Internet search -- which could have easily been conducted by any of the legion of Apple's in-house marketing or legal staff -- would have revealed the prior, long term usage of the iCloud Marks by iCloud Communications."

Is this really part of Apple's standard operating procedure?  Tim Bajarin, a veteran Apple watcher at Creative Stratagies, Inc., came to the company's defense.

"Apple has been working on the back end of iCloud for five years," he said.  "They already bought the name [for the iCloud website] from an online storage service in Sweden."

"Until the 'i' era, the only issue they ever had was the one with Apple Records," Bajarin said.

ICloud Communications and Apple did not immediately return several messages.  In the meantime, ABC News did a search and could not find a record showing iCloud Communications had trademarked the word "iCloud."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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