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Archives: Trademarks

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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3 Steps to Prevent Domain Name Conflicts


Given the widespread use of websites to promote businesses, it’s no wonder that domain name conflicts are on the rise. A domain name conflict typically occurs when the owner of a website address (i.e., the domain name) is not the same as the owner of a similar trademark. To illustrate the problem, let me give you a hypothetical domain name conflict. Let’s say there’s a grandmother in Del Mar who makes custom T-shirts. Because she isn’t very mobile anymore, she sells her shirts exclusively through her website, www.HappyTs.com. Two years after she starts doing business, a fashion designer out of…

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Is ZERO Generic for Coke (ZERO)?


For more than 13 years, a battle has raged over the brand name COKE ZERO. At its core, the dispute centered on whether the term “zero” was generic or descriptive for purposes of trademark law. These two trademark types have important implications for the abilities of companies to protect their intellectual property. If the term was deemed generic, that would mean it could not be registered and it could be used in commerce by anyone – including Coca Cola’s competitors. If, on the other hand, the term was found to be descriptive (i.e., it could be uniquely recognized by consumers…

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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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