the Trademark Resource for Start-Ups, Business Owners, Marketing Professionals, In-House Counsel, and Attorneys

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The Trademark Company: A Cautionary Tale

George: I got greedy. Flew too close to the
sun on wings of pastrami.
Jerry: Yeah, that's what you did . . .
- Seinfeld, Episode #904 "The Blood"

Matthew Swyers is done—at least for five years, maybe forever. It didn't matter that Swyers was a former Trademark Examining Attorney at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") from December 2000 through September 2002 (or maybe that made it matter more). The USPTO got their man, even if he was formerly one of their own. I don't take any pleasure in the misfortunes of others (although I know a lot of others are taking satisfaction in his comeuppance). That's not why I'm writing this blog post. I'm writing it because I think it's fascinating and I wanted to learn more about what happened and why. Like most attorneys practicing trademark law before the USPTO, I'm not very familiar with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline ("OED") or exclusions on consent—why would I be? So a look into the downfall of Swyers was educational, even if I was left with a few unanswered questions.

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Photo of mobile app icons

When I was hunting and pecking for particular apps on my iPad the other night, I suddenly became consciously aware of the powerful branding association created by app icons. I suppose I already knew this even if I wasn't thinking about it before. Literally, when I think of Netflix, I picture the app icon with the red stylized N and black background (the most current app icon). It's the very first thing I think of. It's what I search for and tap on before joining Pablo in Narcos. Same goes for all the other apps I use on a consistent basis—especially services that I only use through an app like Netflix (in contrast, I tend to use Freshbooks and Twitter more through their websites than apps on my iPhone or iPad). Nevertheless, despite the visibility and recognition of these app icons as trademarks that actually get tapped on by consumer fingers, the majority of app icons have not yet been registered as trademarks (I went through a lot of the app icons on my phone out of curiosity and most had not been registered). It's time for app providers to seriously consider registering app icons as trademarks ASAP. continue reading→

Which Trademark Should I Register?

More often than not, a company's brand is a composite trademark consisting of both words and a design/logo. Here are a few examples:

So it's not surprising that one of the most common questions clients ask their trademark attorney is whether they should file a trademark application to protect just the words in their trademark, just the logo, or both the words and logo. The initial answer is all three if you can afford to file three trademark applications. Otherwise, most of the time the answer is just the words, sometimes the answer is the words and the logo, and rarely the answer is just the logo. continue reading→