Miscellaneous IP Nuggets #7

  • The Patent Office has announced that it is opening three new satellite offices – in Dallas, Denver, and Silicon Valley. A Detroit satellite office is already scheduled to open July 23. The new hubs would hire about 100 examiners each, and, more importantly, serve as places where examiners who work at home can periodically meet without having to travel to Alexandria, Virginia. Patent attorneys would benefit because they would be able to more easily schedule examiner interviews earlier in the day.

  • According to a statement, Yahoo and Facebook announced Friday they have “entered into definitive agreements that launch a new advertising partnership, extend and expand distribution arrangements, and settle all pending patent claims between the companies.”  The deal has been praised by analysts as likely being good for both sides.

  • The judge who tossed Apple’s case against smartphone rival Motorola has been quoted as questioning the merits of software patents – and indeed, most patents except for those for pharmaceuticals.  As reported by Reuters, Judge Posner, of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, stated, “It’s not clear that we really need patents in most industries.”

Trademark fight moves to apples

As the “Pink Lady” brand of apples increasingly includes those imported from other countries, particularly those in the Southern Hemisphere, Pink Lady America is reminding shoppers to look carefully at the fruit they buy to make sure that they are only purchasing apples packed under trademark quality standards.

The Pink Lady apple was developed in Australia in the 1970s. It ripens in the southern hemisphere in May and is sold in U.S. markets when local varieties are not in season. It is now also grown in the U.S. and bears fruit in the northern-hemisphere apple season.

Alan Taylor, marketing director of Pink Lady America LLC, said, “…it’s been good to see the vast majority of the domestic fruit marketed with the quality standards coming with the ‘Pink Lady’ trademark. However, it’s not good to now see some fruit being imported into the United States without the benefit of the trademark and those standards which ends up hurting the domestic growers’ efforts.”

The company is asking that consumers only buy apples that have a clearly displayed Pink Lady trademark and that they also compare the stickers on the apple to those on the store signage display. To be extra safe, consumers should make sure that the Pink Lady trademark name on the apple match up with the Pink Lady name on the display. Taylor says that, “It’s unfair to the grower and the consumer when what’s on the PLU isn’t the same as the signage because it’s not only potentially a quality issue, it may also be a trademark violation.”

Pink Lady America says that it’s unfair for other growers to take advantage of the efforts in quality growing and marketing made by genuine suppliers. Consumers lose by buying fruit of inferior quality and growers lose market share to those with the misleading labels.

The use of the Pink Lady trademark in domestic markets is free, only requiring the signing of a license that explains the brand requirements.

Source:Consumers Told to Look for ‘Pink Lady’ Stickers on Imports,” by Victoria Slind-Flor, published at Businessweek.com.

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An Eyebrow Empire: One University of Kentucky B-Ball Player Tries to Trademark His Unibrow


File this under bizarre trademark requests: Anthony Marshon Davis, a basketball player with the University of Kentucky, has applied to register two trademarks related to his eyebrows, or eyebrow as the case may be. Davis, who just completed his first season with the Wildcats is applying for protection of several phrases related to his overgrown eyebrows, or unibrow as he calls it.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says Davis has filed an application to register “fear the brow” and “raise the brow.” Davis says he plans to use both phrases to market a range of products and services, including potential cosmetic lines, lunch boxes, clothing, entertainment, charitable services, sports training and even a website. Apparently there’s no end to the products a man can associate with his busy brows.

Apparently quite the savvy businessman, Davis says he doesn’t want anyone attempting to grow a unibrow because of him and then make money off of it. He says he decided to file for a trademark because a prominent athlete with a unibrow is unique.

He isn’t the first athlete to try and trademark a famous phrase. New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin recently applied to the “Linsanity” trademark, only five games into his memorable winning streak. NBA coach Pat Riley also filed for protection of his famous phrase “three-peat” after he coached the Lakers to two consecutive NBA championships. Sadly, Riley wasn’t able to make much use of the phrase given that he failed to win the third championship in 1989.

NCAA rules prevent athletes from financially profiting from athletics while in school which is why Davis has not filed the application himself. The University of Kentucky stepped in and helped out with the trademark request and is taking the matter quite seriously. The school’s associate athletic director in charge of marketing has already had to send out multiple cease-and-desist letters.

Only one problem stands in his way of a unibrow empire. Another man, John Salcido of Lexington, Kentucky (where the University of Kentucky Wildcats is based) filed his own application for “fear the brow.” His application came in November, seven months earlier than Davis’. Salcido says he wants to use the phrase to make and market a line of clothing.

Source:Anthony Davis Trademarks ‘Fear The Brow’ Catchphrase,” by James Sunshine, published at HuffingtonPost.com.

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