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Legal Blog Archives

Mobilehome Park Ground Lease

Ground leases are long term-leases that share many of the characteristics of a land purchase. The ground lessee acquires long-term exclusive rights of possession, including the right to build on and use the property as the lessee sees fit and to obtain any depreciation or other tax advantages that may accrue by virtue of owning income producing land.

Trade Secrets Finally Get the Respect They Deserve

In May, President Obama signed into law new legislation known as the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (or "DTSA") which is intended to provide enhanced means of protecting the confidential information that many companies rely upon as the basis for their competitive advantage. More specifically, the DTSA amends the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 to provide a federal cause of action to private companies for trade secret misappropriation. The DTSA became effective immediately, but only applies to misappropriation occurring on or after the law's effective date and only protects trade secrets that are "related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce." 18 U.S.C. § 1836(b).

Who Will 'Walk the Plank' In the Battle Over the HAVANA CLUB Trademark?

It has been quite some time since real pirates plied the waters of the Caribbean seeking valuable treasure, high-spirited adventure, and wooden casks of rum, but the recent thaw in U.S. relations with the Cuban government has reignited a decades old trademark battle over the "HAVANA CLUB" trademark for rum.

SCOTUS Denies Cert to Batmobile Case

Throughout his many incarnations, Batman, the fictional crime fighter and protector of the peace in Gotham City, has faced a wide range of very odd foes. Names like The Joker, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze and Penguin are familiar to fans of the Batman comic books, television series, and, of course, movies. But, any true fan of the Caped Crusader will have a hard time recalling any episode or story arc that pitted him against a small group of highly intelligent men and women clad in imposing black robes and wielding the power to decide the fate of something as important to Batman as his beloved Batmobile. That is, until now.

TTAB Decides "ZERO" Is Registerable but May Not Be Enforceable

In February, I reported on the battle between Coca-Cola and some of its soft drink rivals over trademark rights to the word "ZERO" in an article entitled, "How many trademarks is Coca-Cola hoping to register with the USPTO this year? ZERO." Now, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the "TTAB") has issued a final ruling on the subject: The Coca-Cola Company can proceed with the federal registration of the "ZERO" trademark for use in relation to soft drinks with no calories, but it cannot prevent competitors from using the word "zero" in their own trademarks. Huh?

Heinz Declares Victory in Condiment Wars; Patent Holder Vows to Fight On

LITIGATION UPDATE. As we originally reported way back in 2012, Chicago inventor Scott White has been waging an ongoing war with Kraft Heinz Co. over rights to an innovative design for ketchup and other condiments that White had dubbed the "CondiCup." White, a former risk manager for the Chicago Housing Authority, had claimed that Heinz stole his idea for the flexible condiment package after he had applied for registration of a patent for the design and had entered into negotiations with Heinz for a license to use the design for its ketchup and other dippable condiments. White filed suit against Heinz for patent infringement and Heinz contested the efficacy of the underlying patent on file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the "P.T.O."). Unfortunately, for White, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District Circuit recently ruled in favor of Heinz and affirmed an earlier 2013 P.T.O. decision finding that many of White's claims were too obvious to be patentable and therefore canceling the patent.

Where's the Beef? It's in The Kitchen

Believe it or not, even the rich and famous get embroiled in trademark disputes. In this instance, those two are Kimbal Musk, restaurateur and lesser known brother of Elon Musk (the co-founder of PayPal) and Wolfgang Puck, the German-born celebrity chef. And, the two are fighting over the right to use the unlikely trademark "The Kitchen" in relation to their respective restaurants.

How powerful are registered trademarks? Just ask the New Zealand Rugby Union

Trademarks can be powerful. If you don't agree, just think of brands like Nike, McDonald's and Mercedes-Benz that rely on their trademarks to define their reputations in the marketplace and to drive consumers to buy their products. Where would they be without their trademarks?

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