On Thursday, multiple federal law enforcement agencies announced that they have seized infringing knock off NFL® merchandise and Super Bowl® tickets valued at more than $20 million. Agents from both the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with NFL® officials, conducted perhaps the largest Super Bowl® counterfeiting sting ever in what has become an annual tradition.
Last Friday in Lontex Corp. v. Oakley, Inc., 1:13-cv-05459 (DNJ), Lontex sued Oakley in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey for trademark infringement, counterfeiting and unfair competition relating to Lontex’s federally registered mark, SWEAT IT OUT, for sweatbands, headbands and other athletic apparel. In its complaint, Lontex alleges that Oakley is using the exact mark SWEAT IT OUT for a line of sweat-wicking headbands, and attaches exhibits showing that use on Oakely’s on-line store. Lontex further asserts that it has been using its mark for over 20 years, and that Oakley’s conduct violates federal and state trademark and unfair competition laws.
Coach Services, Inc., of the design house offering handbags, footwear and other luxury goods, recently lost a design mark battle challenging registerability of E&D Trading, Inc.’s (“E&D”) mark for DP in stylized format (the “Challenged Mark”) on the basis that it is likely to cause confusion with Coach’s federally registered “Signature C Design” marks. The parties’ marks both cover eyewear, among other goods. Coach’s protest was lodged with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”), an administrative body that is part of the Trademark Office and has authority to rule on challenges to registerability of marks, among other issues. TTAB proceedings and procedure are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as the detailed rules set forth in the TTAB’s Manual of Procedure (“TBMP”).
On June 28th, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the Southern District of New York entered a default judgment in favor of the National Football League® (“NFL®”) against operators of more than 1,997 websites utilizing 1,223 infringing domain names, all of which were offering counterfeit NFL merchandise. In doing so, the District Court awarded the NFL a $273 million judgment against the website operators and injunctive relief.
Free Speech May Allow Disparagement, but the Trademark Office Does Not: TTAB Affirms Refusal to Register STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA
On February 7, 2013, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the refusal to register the mark, STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA, for “providing information regarding understanding and preventing terrorism” on the basis that the mark “may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.” The registration of disparaging marks is explicitly prohibited by Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a).
The upcoming Super Bowl, pitting San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh against his older brother, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, has been dubbed “Harbowl” by some. An individual in Rockville, Maryland is attempting to take this name to a new level, by filing a federal trademark application for use of the mark “HarBowl” on athletic apparel.
Trademark holders no longer have to worry about not being able to dismiss a case by entering into a properly drafted covenant not to sue. In Already, LLC, dba Yums v. Nike, Inc., the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Second Circuit’s opinion by ruling that Nike’s covenant not to sue Yums for trademark infringement was sufficiently broad to render moot Yums’ challenge to the validity of Nike’s asserted registration. Yums had no reasonable apprehension of litigation and Nike met its burden of showing that Yums could not be sued later. Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion, which required a high standard for parties issuing the covenant, as they bear a “formidable burden” to establish that it is “absolutely clear” that the allegedly wrongful conduct cannot reasonably be expected to reoccur. Remand was not necessary under the circumstances, because the Court found that it “cannot conceive” of any shoe that Yums could make “that would potentially infringe Nike’s trademark and yet not fall under the Covenant.” Arguably, the Court construed the covenant so broadly as to exclude a claim of infringement based on Yums’ sale of the exact shoe covered by Nike’s challenged registration.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) recently published for opposition the mark TIM TEBOW. The applicant for the mark in these various goods and services is XV Enterprises LLC of Denver, Colorado, who has indicated that Tim Tebow, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner and New York Jets quarterback (formerly with the Denver Broncos), has consented to the applications.
D’Artagnan Trademarks LLC, (“DT”) recently sued the Saul Zaentz Company (“SZ”) in the District of New Jersey regarding the trademark ROHAN. In December 2011, DT filed a trademark application for ROHAN in connection with the sale of poultry, namely, duck. The PTO approved the application and SZ opposed its registration when it published for opposition in late March. SZ alleged that it has exclusive rights to certain trademarks (the “Marks”) derived from the trilogy of books known as “The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien. Readers might recall that in the books, “Rohan” is a fictional realm within the fantasy world of the stories. SZ alleges it owns federal trademark registrations for ROHAN, RIDERS OF ROHAN and ROHAN NUTRITION, relating to animal feed and feed supplements for horses, plastic figurines for use with table top hobby battle games, and website services about computer games. SZ has a number of licensees using these marks.
Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. (“Ben & Jerry’s”), the Vermont-based ice cream maker, recently filed a lawsuit in SDNY against adult video company Rodax Distributors, Inc. d/b/a Caballero Video, et al (“Defendants”). The complaint alleged trademark and trade dress dilution and infringement, and related claims arising from Defendants’ production and distribution of a series of hardcore pornographic DVDs whose titles and packaging play upon the names and trade dress of some of Ben & Jerry’s federally registered and famous marks.