Fixated on “Affixation”: Navigating the US’s Tricky “Use” Requirement

Unlike most of the world, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires trademark owners to demonstrate actual evidence of use of their marks in order to register and/or maintain their trademark rights. For domestic trademark owners, this “use” requirement is raised at the application stage as U.S. trademark owners are required to file evidence of use before the office will issue a registration. Non-U.S. filers who seek registration in the U.S. may be able to bypass this initial evidence of use requirement at the initial application stage if the U.S. application is based on an extension of the trademark owner’s foreign trademark rights. However, both domestic and foreign trademark owners are required to file evidence of use at both the maintenance deadline – between the fifth and sixth year after registration – and renewal deadlines – file every 10 years after registration.

What exactly is “evidence of use” in the U.S.? The answer is likely far more specific than you may think. The short answer is the USPTO only recognizes current marketplace evidence showing the applied for or registered mark affixed to the goods and services claimed in the application or registration. But what qualifies as “affixation” … Keep reading

IP & Cybersecurity: Critical Points on Data Misuse

What strategies should businesses employ to circumvent “insider” cyber threats? Attorneys Howard Susser and Brooke Penrose will discuss the best practices to manage and prevent data misuse and the claims to consider when threats arise. Learn about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, trade secrets and other intellectual property claims, and breaches of agreements.

Click here to view the full webinar.… Keep reading

Available vs. Allowed: The Pitfalls in Grabbing Domain Names That Incorporate Well-Known Brands

“Available” is not the same as “lawful to own” when registering a domain name. Domain registrars – such as GoDaddy, Bluehost and Domain.com – are just marketplaces for available domain names. A registrar’s willingness to allow someone to purchase a domain name does not necessarily come with any assurances that the purchaser has the right to use that domain name. In fact, reputable registrars – and all of those that are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – generally require the purchaser to represent that its purchase of the domain name does not infringe on others’ intellectual property rights.

If a trademark owner believes a domain owner has acquired a domain name that incorporates its trademark – or something confusingly similar to its trademark – without permission, it may be able to grab the domain name from the original purchaser by instituting a “UDRP” proceeding. Under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), a trademark owner can initiate an arbitration-like proceeding against a domain owner which will determine whether the domain owner can keep its domain or if it will be transferred to the trademark owner. Typical providers of UDRP arbitration services are … Keep reading

Top Tips for Drafting Privacy Notices

If your website collects information about its visitors, whether by name or anonymously, you are almost certainly required to make specific public disclosures about your treatment of this data and offer visitors information on what rights may be available to them. This information is typically reflected in a privacy policy or privacy notice – for simplicity, we will use the term “privacy notice” – posted to your company’s website. The granularity and type of disclosures required, along with the scope of rights you must provide to visitors under applicable law, largely depends on the geographic areas where your visitors reside. It also depends on whether you are collecting “garden variety” information, like names and contact information, or highly regulated data, like children’s, health or financial data.

The United States remains one of the few developed countries without a central, comprehensive federal privacy and data security law. Accordingly, websites that only collect information from U.S. residents have some of the loosest requirements with respect to disclosures and rights. However, most U.S. states have some sort of data security and privacy law requiring websites to post a privacy notice. The Federal Trademark Commission (FTC) has broad authority to regulate activities deemed … Keep reading

Top 5 Legal Considerations When Selecting a New Trademark

Companies often leave decisions on the new company name or the name of a new product for “another day,” believing that finding the right word is just a matter of internal consensus building or exercising a relatively minor amount of creative thought. But choosing a new name can be a time-consuming, emotionally draining, and resource-intensive task that is rarely accomplished in short order.

Part of the complication with choosing names and trademarks derives from internal company issues. Choosing names involves understanding the mission and marketing plans of the company. Often these criteria are ill-defined or not agreed upon before the naming process begins. Another common misstep is that the task of naming is given to a business unit that works independently of or external to other management-level employees. This leads to the clearance and selection of names that another business unit or manager may dislike or refuse to accept.

A fundamental key to success in choosing names and trademarks is putting in place an internal process that involves agreement on who will be involved and how the name should be selected. In particular, if at all possible, company personnel should decide what the new name or mark is intended … Keep reading

Don’t Crumble Under Cookie Restrictions

Nearly half of all websites use cookies – small text files stored on internet users’ computers and mobile devices so web servers can track that user. Cookies come in a variety of flavors in terms of their purpose, the party placing the cookie, and the duration they last on a user’s device. For example, a cookie may have a functional (ex. cookies that remember visitors’ preferred language), analytical (ex. cookies that report site usage statistics), or advertising/marketing purpose (ex. cookies used to retarget advertising to visitors). “First-party cookies” are placed directly by the website being visited while “third-party cookies” are set by another party other than the website’s owner. “Session cookies” are deleted after the user’s session on the website ends while “persistent cookies” can last from days to years after the end of the user’s session.

Proceed with Caution – Cookies May Create Legal Exposure for Site Operators

Cookies can be incredibly useful to website operators as they can enable the operator to gather helpful information about how visitors use its website and thereby target its advertising efforts without disrupting the user experience.  However, as web visitor privacy control continues to be … Keep reading

Brexit and Intellectual Property in Europe: What You Need to Know

Join Intellectual Property Group Co-Chair Deborah Peckham and attorney Christopher Carroll for a debriefing on critical points you need to know about Brexit’s impact on pan-European IP claims, including patents, trademarks, and design rights. Which pan-European rights will give rise to U.K. rights post-Brexit? How will U.S. owners ensure that their IP rights stay protected in the U.K.? How does Brexit impact tracking of renewals and maintenance of IP Rights in the U.K.?

Christopher Carroll is an intellectual property partner based in the firm’s Boston and London offices. He has practiced extensively before both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Office. His practice concentrates on developing strategies for clients related to patents, trademarks, and copyrights in the U.S., Europe, and internationally.

Click here to watch the full micro-webinar.… Keep reading

GDPR Operational Compliance: Don’t Stop at Updating Your Website Privacy Notice

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) is much more than a reminder to update your organization’s website privacy notice. While an updated privacy notice is one of the more public-facing steps an organization can take to comply with the GDPR, the majority of fines lodged by regulators under the GDPR relate to organizations’ operations unrelated to their privacy policy. Below are just a few steps you should be taking to become compliant.

  1. Adopt Appropriate Security Measures: The GDPR requires organizations to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk posed to individuals by the organization’s processing of their personal data. This is a flexible standard, and while no specific measure is strictly prescribed by the GDPR, hundreds of organizations have already been fined for failing to implement appropriate security measures. For instance, sanctions have been imposed for failing to encrypt personal data, failing to train employees on data security, failing to conduct risk assessments, and even inadvertent disclosures due to human error.
  2. Ensure There Is a ‘Lawful Basis’ for Processing Personal Data: there are six, and only six, justifications (each called a “lawful basis”) for processing personal data
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COVID Stimulus Act Impacts U.S. Intellectual Property Laws

With the President’s signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021 on December 27, 2020, several important updates to U.S. intellectual property law have been adopted.

Trademark Act Amended

The Trademark Modernization Act (“TMA”) makes significant amendments to the Lanham Act, which will become effective December 27, 2021. The TMA generally aims to reduce deadwood on the register of trademarks by providing for summary expungement. But the Act also made some noteworthy amendments to trademark prosecution and enforcement procedures.  A summary of some of the highlights include:

  • New Ex Parte Expungement Proceeding. A third party, or the Trademark Office, may petition to expunge a registration on the basis that the mark has never been used in commerce on or in connection with some or all of the goods or services recited in the registration. The proceeding is only available for registrations that have been registered for more than three years but less than 10 years.
  • Response Deadlines for Trademark Office Actions May be Shortened. The current response time for all Office Actions is six months. The TMA allows the response period to be shortened to a period that is at least sixty days, provided extensions of
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Vetting a New Trademark: How Upfront Trademark Diligence Can Minimize Future Headaches

Before adopting a new trademark or filing an application for federal trademark registration, it is wise to conduct clearance searching. There are various purposes behind clearance. These include 1) dispute avoidance; 2) ensuring the mark as strength; 3) evidence of diligence and good housekeeping.

Dispute Avoidance. First and foremost, searching helps assess whether the chosen mark is likely to trigger a dispute with someone who already adopted the same or a similar mark. Importantly, trademark conflicts are not limited to the use of an identical mark for an identical product or service. Instead, the legal analysis typically focuses upon whether the existence of two similar marks in the marketplace might lead consumers to assume that the products come from the same source or that the sources have a relationship or are otherwise associated with each other. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, trademark rights are effective upon the first use of a mark on a commercial product or service. Marks need not be registered. Therefore, the best way to avoid a dispute is to search the landscape of other users in the marketplace to be sure someone else didn’t hatch your great branding idea before you did.

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