Joseph Grasser

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On June 22, an advocate general at the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) issued an opinion indicating that Christian Louboutin S.A.’s signature red sole might be a protectable trademark — or it might not be — depending on whether the protection of the shape in combination with color would afford the mark owner a “monopoly on technical solutions or functional characteristics of a product which a user is likely to seek in…
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Star Athletica LLC v. Varsity Brands Inc., which, in the Court’s words “resolve[s] widespread disagreement over the proper test” for determining when “the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection.”  Slip Op. at 1.  Varsity Brands, a cheerleading uniform manufacturer, filed the copyright infringement case in 2010, alleging that Star Athletica copied various graphic aspects of its uniform designs, including stripes, chevrons,…
On January 5, the U.S. District Court, District of Colorado ruled that ceramics company CeramTec GmbH is not entitled to trade dress protection for the pink color of its hip implant components.  C5Med. Werks, LLC v. CeramTec GmbH, D. Colo., No 14-cv-00643-RBJ, 1517 decision highlights the limits of trade dress protection, which only extends to non-functional elements that serve to identify a product’s source. The plaintiff, C5 Medical Werks LLC, brought suit to cancel CeramTec’s…
This morning, the Supreme Court issued its most recent ruling in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., unanimously holding that the “objective reasonableness” of an unsuccessful litigant’s position should be accorded “substantial weight” when awarding attorneys’ fees in copyright cases.  The Court, however, also noted that this factor is not dispositive and district courts must examine a wide-array of other factors.  This case first came before the Court in 2012 when the Plaintiff,…
In Quesada v. Herb Thyme Farms, Inc., a unanimous California Supreme Court held that a California putative consumer class can assert state law claims arising from the purportedly false “organic” labeling of produce.  In so doing, the court reversed a decision stating that such claims are preempted by federal law addressing the use of “organic” on product labels.  Quesada mirrors, in many respects, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Pom Wonderful LLC v.
In B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. (No. 13-352), the U.S. Supreme Court settled the question whether a finding by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) can trigger issue preclusion in later federal court litigation.  The Court held that “[s]o long as the ordinary elements of issue preclusion are met, when the usages adjudicated by the TTAB are materially the same as those before the district court, issue preclusion should apply.” In 1996,…