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Archives: Ask David

ASK DAVID: How Does Marriott Show the Value of a Varied Trademark Portfolio?


Recently Josh Barro wrote an article in New York Magazine asking “Why Do Hotel Companies Have So Many Brands?” The article begins: In 2016, Marriott Hotels, which had 19 hotel brands, merged with Starwood, which had 11. They didn’t abolish any brands in the merger, and so the company faced a challenge: How to explain to customers, or even to its own employees, what makes all 30 of these brands different from each other. That’s right – Marriott alone has 30 different hotel brand names (or “flags” as they apparently call them in the hotel industry). These include Marriott, Sheraton,…

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ASK DAVID: What’s the Controversy Over the Aloha Poke Trademark?


A Chicago-based restaurant chain serving poke, a Hawaiian dish of raw fish and rice, recently faced a branding controversy over its ALOHA POKE® trademark. Since obtaining the trademark in 2016, the owners of Aloha Poke Co. sent a cease and desist letter—a legal notice directing another party to cease an activity—to several businesses with similar names nationwide. Several of them happened to be native Hawaiian-owned companies. Aloha Poke Co. sought to stop others from using the specific phrase ALOHA POKE for business purposes, citing trademark infringement. However, the situation boiled over in 2018 with activists and a Hawaii state representative…

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Ask David: What Should a Standard Nondisclosure Agreement Include?


There may be no more critical tool for new companies and inventors than a solid nondisclosure agreement. Generally speaking, standard nondisclosure agreements allow a company to share secret information with other parties while legally prohibiting those parties from spreading the information to a wider audience. Nondisclosure agreements (also known as NDAs) can be used for a variety of purposes, including dissemination of financial information, marketing plans, new technologies, or confidential business processes. NDAs are especially important when a company or entrepreneur is trying to protect their trade secrets. Legally speaking, trade secrets consist of any information that: (1) derives independent…

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What are the Intellectual Property Impacts of USMCA – the New NAFTA?


Last week, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada announced that they had come to terms on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the proposed replacement for NAFTA. I say “proposed” because the treaty still has to be approved by all three countries’ legislatures. The full text of the proposed USMCA agreement can be read here. Assuming the USMCA goes into effect as currently proposed, what are the impacts for trademark and copyright holders? General Stance Towards Intellectual Property USMCA Article 20.A.8: National Treatment states that “In respect of all categories of intellectual property covered in this Chapter, each Party shall accord to nationals…

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