Alex MacKay

Latest Articles

Only three months ago we wrote about rebranding. Just two months ago we wrote about beloved brand nicknames. Then, last month, two companies announced plans to rebrand to abbreviations of their current marks. Coincidence? Probably, but we are going to take the opportunity to revisit those topics anyway. On September 25, 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts announced that it would be rebranding as DUNKIN’ beginning January 2019: “Dunkin’” sounds like “Duncan” and is the first…
A familiar adage teaches that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar. Without in any way implying that infringers are flies, we can apply this lesson to the trademark context. It seems that trademark attorneys enforcing their clients’ rights have really taken this wisdom to heart in recent years. With increasing frequency, trademark cease and desist letters filled with humor and whimsy fill the news. Most recently, In-N-Out Burger sent a cease and…
On 10 July 2018, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced its intent to fine Facebook £500,000 for two breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998, the maximum permitted under the pre-GDPR regime. If the penalty is enforced, it will be the biggest issued by the ICO in its history. For some perspective, had the breach occurred following the implementation of the General Data Protection Legislation 2016/679 (GDPR), the social network could have faced a fine…
On 22 June 2018, the European Commission published a factsheet that provides a visual summary of the actions taken to date to implement its Digital Single Market strategy. The Digital Single Market strategy refers to the European Commission’s mission to ensure access to online activities for individuals and businesses under conditions of fair competition, consumer and data protection, removing geo-blocking and copyright issues. The factsheet sets out a timeline, which shows the status of each…
One sign of a prominent, strong, and/or beloved brand is a nickname. Consumers sometimes show their affection for their favorite brands by abbreviating them, elongating them, or creating variations of them. On the flip side, sometimes brand owners create their own brand nicknames, perhaps in an effort to manufacture the desired consumer affection. And then there are occasions where it is hard to tell whether a nickname originated with the consumers or the brand owner…
I have fond memories¹ of drowning my pancakes in all the flavored syrups on the table rack at IHOP. But, on June 4, the International House of Pancakes announced that though it had been IHOP for 60 years, it would be “flippin” its name to “IHOb” in a week: This was enough to cause some IHOP patrons to flip out: IHOP’s Twitter account had fun teasing the public, but remained serious about the trademark issues:…
On 25 May 2018 the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) formally replaced the Article 29 Working Party as the European advisory committee on data protection issues. In addition to taking over Article 29 Working Party’s responsibilities in issuing guidelines, recommendations and statements of best practice, the EDPB, which operates as an independent body of the European Union with its own separate legal personality, also takes on a far broader set of responsibilities: examining – on…
Maybe it’s just because I am about to go on vacation with seven children under the age of 11 (and their parents), but it seems a lot of trademarks from my childhood have been making appearances in the news recently. Just last month, Hasbro, Inc. obtained a federal trademark registration (Reg. No. 5,467,089) for the scent of Play-Doh. The mark is described as the “scent of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla fragrance, with slight overtones…
On 23 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive on the protection of whistleblowers reporting on breaches of EU law, accompanied by an explanatory memorandum. The Directive The intention behind the proposal is to harmonise the minimum level of protection available to whistleblowers across the EU. It reflects the Commission’s view that whistleblowers can play an important role in exposing breaches of EU law, but they will often resist coming forward…
There are several different kinds of intellectual property protection (e.g., trademarks, patents, and copyrights). The borders between the types of protection are not always clear, and it may be that some subject matter is eligible for protection in more than one category. Conversely, it may be that qualifying for protection in one category excludes the subject matter from protection in another. This blog post examines the border between patent protection and trademark protection, particularly the…