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Amazon Offers Protection To Sellers With Trademark Registrations

On the list of additions to our lives that the online world has given us - more accessible knowledge, more educational options, faster communications et al - many of us would rank one quite highly. Next day delivery. These magical words grant us freedom from the shackles of physical locations and in-store availability. Whatever we want, we can have it....tomorrow!

But (there always seems to be a 'but'!) how do we know that the coveted product we ordered is the real deal? While much hilarity has ensued from people sharing their experiences of expectation versus reality in online shopping, it needs to be borne in mind that ultimately, they did not receive what they paid for. In some instances, that can be attributed to the selection of a wrong size or not reading the small print regarding measurements. In others, it is more sinister than that.

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An Overview of US Trademark Registration

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) governs the registration and management of trademarks at a federal level throughout the US. Separate to the federal system, each state operates a local trademark registration service for businesses operating within a limited location and which perhaps don't require the additional protection that a federal registration would provide. While the state system varies from state to state, in some cases, these state registers link to the federal system. A state registration in Washington DC, for example, will qualify for a federal registration. The USPTO provides a useful list of state registers here.

The legal basis for trademark registration in the US is provided by the Trademark Act of 1946 (As Amended) more colloquially known as the Lanham (Trademark) Act. It is named after Fritz G. Lanham, a Representative from Texas and was ushered into law under the signature of President Truman. Prior to the enactment of the Lanham Act, a number of limited protections were provided to business and brand owners but these were eventually found to be at odds with the Constitution and set aside by the new act. Many valid registrations from before 1946 can be found in the USPTO database and while it is rare, disputes arising in connection with these venerable trademarks can require an examination of the preceding laws.

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Madrid Applications - Avoiding A Provisional Refusal From The USPTO

There is no such thing as a single worldwide trademark registration but the Madrid System of trademark registration managed by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) in Geneva provides a basis for international registrations. It currently has 98 contracting parties providing registrations in 114 countries. That figure is set to grow again this year expanding the opportunities for protection available to trademark owners that do business across multiple regions or indeed the globe!

Not only is the number of regions in which you can submit applications growing but the use of the system is growing too. The number of annual applications through the Madrid system grew again last year - by 7.2%, bringing the total number of individual applications for 2016 to 52,550. With your domestic registration serving as a base for the first five years, a WIPO application allows you to pick and choose the countries to which you would like to submit an application, known as designations. Having successfully registered a mark, you can later (subject to availability) expand the scope of protection to other countries, called subsequent designations.

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Legal Tech & Trademarks - Is The Tipping Point Nigh?

Trademarks and humanity have a long history together. For as long as people have been able to create, they have wanted to claim the marks of their trade as their own. Despite this long history, the processes for registering and protecting these trademarks have remained remarkably unchanged by the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution until relatively recent times. The internet has provided the biggest changes so far with harmonisation, e-filing and registries available online making the lives of busy professionals easier in many ways.

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Trademarks 2005 - 2025

Twenty years doesn't sound like a lot in the greater scheme of the universe. Despite the plethora of articles regarding the present and coming impact of legal technology, there are those that feel it will be a long time in the making. After all, the hairstyles mercilessly mocked as "sooo last season" in 2005 will likely stage a comeback around 2025. Each generation will consistently abhor the music and fashion tastes of the next generation which will inevitably cycle back round anyway. It can feel as though we exist in an endless loop of cycling change where the only fixed constants are death, taxes and the certainty that teenagers will never see their parents as 'cool'.

However, as it relates to bigger and more impactful innovations, progress is decidedly linear and it happens faster than you might think. The first man to fly an airplane and the first man to walk on the moon were alive at the same time. When Orville Wright was on his deathbed in January 1948, a young Neil Armstrong was a few months away from his 18th birthday. There were only 66 years between mankind achieving flight in a powered airplane in 1903 and walking on the moon in 1969. We made it off the ground and into space in less time than the average human lifespan.

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The Dog Days of Trademarks Are….Far From Over!

Next week on August 26th we celebrate National Dog Day which was established in 2004 in the US by Colleen Paige to celebrate the long-standing and special relationships that we have with our canine friends. Despite the strength of the relationship and the love between many pups and their human families, there are thousands more dogs around the world in need of rescue. National Dog Day encourages people to interact with and support their local rescue centres and other facilities that seek to improve the lives of dogs in distress. You can visit the website to discover some of the ways you can help to celebrate our devoted companions and assistance dogs and join the mission to create a better world for them all.

It is truly impossible to determine the scope of our involvement with dogs in any meaningful way, or indeed animals in general. What is clear is that for very many of us, there is something about them that speaks to our very soul. As a stalwart and lifelong dog lover, it comes as no surprise to me that our canine companions play a strong role in the creation of brands that hit us right where we live. Much like the overall interactions between humans and dogs, these relationships don't always run smoothly either.

Below we bring you just a few of the canine trademark infringements cases that have made it to the courtroom...and we doubt they will be the last!

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Can That "Taste Of Home" Cause Trademark Infringement?

Recessions, globalisation, romantic liaisons and a thirst for adventure are only a few of the reasons why so many of us have family members inhabiting various corners of the globe. No matter what reasons might have taken them to far-flung places in the first place, there is always a hankering for at least some parts of home. In many cases, these yearnings revolve around foodstuffs that are the taste of our childhood or contribute to your national identity.

For many years, this led to desperate missives home to send care parcels stuffed with the most critical foodstuffs. Pleas from abroad for Barry's teabags, packets of Tayto crisps, Cadbury chocolate and even loaves of Brennan's bread were a familiar routine in Ireland as the younger populace moved abroad in order to find work.

Increasingly though, these kind of circumstances have led to the development of specialist shops to cater to this clientele with many more regular shops acquiring goods from overseas. While this is fantastic for the end recipients and in some cases, good for local business - it can create headaches for the companies that produce those goods.

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The High Price of Failure for Intellectual Property Protection

Entrepreneurs now enjoy fewer barriers to market than ever before.

With just a few clicks of a mouse, the purchase of a domain name, and the building of a website, any business can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Throw in some online advertising, and you can be profitable by dinner time!

Thus, it is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time to be protecting brands; no one can afford to rest on his or her laurels. Large companies and small businesses alike now need to obtain and maintain trademark protection, and regularly monitor those marks as well.

Thanks to an abundance of social media participants and influencers, the term "overnight success" is no longer a meaningless expression. Whether a celebrity tweets about your brand, or a customer makes an entertaining Facebook video, products can quickly go viral in today's marketplace.

For businesses and trademark owners, this is both good news and bad news.

In this article, we'll review the most important factors of protecting your company trademarks in our digital era. However, before we begin, let's look at an example of how quickly brand notoriety can now change online.

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4 Factors That Cause Irreparable Harm to Trademarks

One recent study published in Inside Counsel revealed that 80 percent of executives worry that infringement is on the rise, but only a few are actively monitoring their portfolio of trademarks. It’s crucial to understand as quickly as possible when your marks are subject to infringement, both to protect consumer trust and avoid unsatisfactory legal judgments.

In one recent case, a Taiwanese brand waited six years to file litigation from when they first initiated invalidation actions. This six-year gap made their request for compensation invalid.

In a world where prolonged, unnoticed infringement may invalidate your claims of harm, actively monitoring all your marks becomes even more critical.

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Trademark Infringement in Colour

Colour plays an important role in the lifecycle and promotion of brands, making them an instantly recognisable identifier of source that transcends language and cultural difficulties globally. Consequently, the attraction of colours as part of your logo, or indeed as an identifier in their own right, is increasing. However, the registration of a particular colour for your brand is fraught with challenges and even more so on an international stage.

In recent times, brands have struggled to establish or maintain their colour trademarks on both sides of the pond with the US and Europe taking disparate views on the criteria to establish the validity for a colour to act as a trademark for any particular company. A viewpoint largely held in common across many regions is that the registration of any particular colour as an identifier for any particular company in a particular industry or field will necessarily limit the ability of other companies to use colours to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. It is not widely held that the greater interest is served by freely perpetuating this restriction.

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