Alex MacKay

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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…
On 23 February 2018, the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) sent a letter to Alban Schmutz, President of Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE), in response to the organisation’s submission of a draft Code of Conduct for Cloud Infrastructure Service Providers. In conducting its review, the aim of WP29 was to ensure that the draft Code would enable individuals to feel confident that their chosen cloud infrastructure services are compliant with the Data Protection…
Someone said a picture is worth a thousand words. If true, that would make it really difficult to compare a design mark and a word mark for likelihood of confusion purposes. Fortunately, a recent case from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “TTAB”) provides clearer guidance. Aquitaine Wine USA, LLC sought to register the mark below in connection with certain French wines protected by an appellation of origin: It was refused registration on the…
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “PTO”) has launched a new pilot program designed to ensure that specimens of use submitted to the PTO reflect actual use of the mark in commerce. A mark is “used in commerce” within the meaning of the federal trademark statute (the Lanham Act) when the mark is affixed to goods (or containers or displays) and the goods are sold or transported in commerce and/or the mark is…
The opening ceremonies for the 2018 Olympic winter games take place Friday, February 9, but competition has already begun. In addition to competitions on the ice and slopes, there are competitions among brand owners. Official sponsors of the Olympic games pour lots of dollars into exclusivity, promotions, and advertisements related to the Olympics. And sometimes the competitors of those sponsors engage in ambush marketing. But what about marks related to the Olympics themselves? The marks…