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

Trademark Registration

A picture of a California beach with text that reads "How to file a California trademark"

Although most businesses opt to file a federal trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"), not every trademark owner qualifies for federal registration. The trademark owner may not be making use of its mark in interstate commerce. There may be an existing federal registration preventing the trademark owner from registering at the federal level. Or maybe the trademark owner wants to take a belt and suspenders approach to its trademark portfolio and support its federal registration with a California state trademark registration. Whatever the reason—how do you file a trademark application in California? continue reading→

15 USC Section 1121(b)

Like many trademark practitioners, I cite Section 39(a) of the Lanham Act, aka 15 U.S.C. § 1121(a), routinely in jurisdictional statements. And every time I take a refresher and peek at the statutory section, Section (b) piques my interest. So what's the story on § 1121(b)? Turns out, it's a short story with little case law interpreting it. continue reading→

Disqualification of Trademark Attorney

Trademark applications need to be signed. Other documents in the trademark prosecution process—like statements of use, § 8 declarations of use, § 9 renewals—need to be signed. And the rules are clear that the attorney of record can sign those documents on behalf of the applicant.

Yet, many trademark attorneys have a strict policy against signing any trademark application documents on behalf of their clients. That policy is based on the concern that, by signing such documents, the attorney can be considered a witness and might even be disqualified. But how much of a concern should this really be? Turns out it is probably very unlikely that anything will come of it. continue reading→

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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California cannabis trademarks in 2018?

On November 8, 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act ("AUMA"). And on December 12, 2016, Assembly Bill No. 64 ("AB 64") was introduced in the California Legislature. Although the AB 64 is still in its early stages and has a ways to go before being passed by the California Legislature and approved by the Governor, it has some important consequences for recreational and medical marijuana businesses who want to protect their trademarks. continue reading→