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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone who uses a mobile device knows there are times when hands-free is a necessity. Enter National Products, Inc., a US maker of RAM® Mounts for securely mounting electronic devices—including phones, tablets, laptops and radar detectors—in cars, trucks, bikes and boats, among other vehicles. Like many US retailers, National Products discovered knockoff copies of its own products for sale in the market. In particular, National Products identified several Chinese companies importing mounts similar to its RAM® products and selling them through third-party reseller websites.
Continue Reading

Social media can be a minefield of intellectual property issues. The hashtag, for example, began as a searching tool, but now has evolved into its own form of communication. And if a hashtag can include a trademark or otherwise represent a brand, when can you use someone else’s trademark in a hashtag?
Continue Reading

Recently, in Mission Product Holdings v. Tempnology LLC, the Supreme Court held that a trademark licensee may continue using a licensed trademark after its licensor files for bankruptcy and rejects the relevant license agreement. While a debtor-licensor may “reject” a trademark license agreement under Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code, such rejection is only a breach of the agreement and does not allow the licensor to revoke the licensee’s rights.
Continue Reading

A federal court in Pennsylvania has held that Liberty Mutual must defend its insured, Hershey Creamery Company, in an intellectual property infringement lawsuit because the suit raises claims that potentially implicate coverage under the policies’ personal and advertising injury coverages. The court further found that the alleged wrongful conduct was not subject to the policies’ IP infringement exclusion.
Continue Reading