Your product development team spent years designing a product, working out every design detail until it is just right. Your company spent significant time and money marketing the product, shoring up a great reputation for the product and the company that stands behind it. Then, a copycat comes along with a knockoff and starts selling a product that looks eerily similar—or even identical—to yours.
Continue Reading Protecting Your Products Using Design Patents in the Era of Copycats

3M Company is a leading manufacturer of N95 respirators. According to 3M, medical workers and public-health professionals consider 3M-branded N95 respirators to be “the gold standard.” Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic spiked the demand for N95 respirators. 3M ramped up production of its N95 masks as a result, but did not increase the price. Other entities, however, have purportedly offered 3M N95 respirators at prices much higher than 3M’s list prices.
Continue Reading Can Trademark Law Combat Price Gouging? 3M is Testing Theories to Protect its Brand

Trade dress, which includes the total look of a product (size, shape, color) is registrable as a trademark if, like a trademark, it identifies the source of a product. Thanks to a recent decision, In re Forney Industries Inc., Appeal No. 2019-1073, by the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal Circuit), it may now be easier for businesses to obtain federal trademark registration for some color-based product packaging trade dress.
Continue Reading Your Color-Based Product Packaging Mark Might Be Protectable Trade Dress

Trademarks allow businesses to protect brand names and logos used on their goods and/or services. Unlike other IP, rights in a registered trademark can last indefinitely as long as the mark is in continuous use and all the required maintenance documents are filed. Failure to file such documents results in the cancellation of the trademark registration. Once canceled, the mark can still be re-applied for by the original owner and, in certain instances, another enterprising business. Specifically, assuming the mark has been legally abandoned, the other enterprising business can file its own trademark registration application for the mark. A recent case from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) illustrates how the original owner can still have standing to oppose another business’s registration of a mark that’s remained dormant for over a decade.
Continue Reading A Pulse Found in “Dead” Trademark Rights

As publicly traded retailers begin to prepare their annual reports and 2020 proxy statements, they should keep in mind a number of new and amended SEC disclosure items. As detailed in our recent client alert, hot topics for proxy statements include hedging policy disclosure, board diversity disclosure and overboarding of directors. In annual reports on Form 10-K, public retailers must consider new cover page requirements; new disclosure rules for material property, management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A) and exhibit filings; and most retailers will now disclose critical audit matters, or CAMS, as identified by their independent auditors.
Continue Reading Upcoming Changes to 2020 Proxy Statements and Annual Reports

Innovation and developments in technology bring both opportunities and challenges for retailers, and Hunton Andrews Kurth has a sophisticated understanding of these issues and how they affect retailers. On January 23, 2020, our cross-disciplinary retail team, composed of over 200 lawyers, released our annual Retail Industry Year in Review.
Continue Reading 2019 Retail Industry Year in Review

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill—the Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019—to expand the authority of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to seize counterfeit goods that infringe intellectual property rights, specifically design patents, at the border. The senators expect the legislation, if passed, to help stem the tide of counterfeits (with a global trade value estimated at over $1 trillion) by preventing their importation into the US.
Continue Reading Proposed Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019 Would Provide Design Patent Protection at the US Border

Office workers everywhere are familiar with height-adjustable desks. These desks allow workers to raise or lower their work surfaces, and often workers will use a height-adjustable desk to perform tasks while standing instead of sitting. Varidesk is one of the most prominent designers and distributors of height-adjustable desks. Like many US retailers that offer popular products, Varidesk observed knockoff copies for sale in the US from numerous foreign entities. Fortunately for Varidesk, its patent portfolio provided a way to defend its business.
Continue Reading Varidesk Keeps Foreign Knockoffs Seated With ITC General Exclusion Order

Design patents can be a useful way to complement an IP portfolio because they can protect the way a product looks instead of how it works. Many consumer products can be defined this way, either in conjunction with, or even in lieu of, utility patents. Where utility patents cover a technical innovation, design patents must claim “ornamental” designs and cannot cover a “primarily functional” design that is essential to the use of the covered product.
Continue Reading A Good Looking Truck: Design Patents Can Protect Aesthetic Appeal of Auto Parts