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Archives: Trademarks

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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Disney Character Knockoffs – Legal or Not?


Disney character knockoffs come a dime a dozen, but are they legal? A recent ruling took on this issue. In the spring of 2016, Disney Enterprises, Inc. and its affiliated entities sued a small party services business called Characters for Hire (“CFH”) for presenting Disney character knockoffs to the public. The entertainment conglomerate alleged that CFH violated its copyright and trademark rights. But the plaintiff was up to the challenge. Disney—along with subsidiaries Marvel Characters, Inc., Lucas Film Ltd., LLC, and Lucas Entertainment Company Ltd., LLC (collectively, “Disney”)—moved for summary judgment, meaning a ruling from the civil court judge without…

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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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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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