The latest example of this phenomenon took place in Viacom International Inc. v. IJR Capital Investments, where the Fifth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision granting trademark protection to the Krusty Krab, a fictional restaurant in the television series SpongeBob SquarePants. Viacom sued IJR Capital Investment for unfair competition and trademark infringement because IJR had been trying to open up seafood restaurants in California and Texas under the Krusty Krab name since 2014. IJR Capital claimed that they did not base their name on the fictional restaurant, but rather the crusted glaze applied to cooked seafood. IJR noted that there was no Krusty Krab trademark already registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Podcast Episode 2 Now Live!
Alignment: Accelerating Funded Startups and the Agency of the Future, with guests Evan Kraut & Guy Poreh.
With the proliferation of funded e-commerce startups focused on the direct-to-consumer, how is brand created and how can startups adapt to the changing tastes and trends to reach consumers and drive sales? Further, what are some models for agencies to reinvent themselves to not only survive, but to thrive as the media landscape evolves? How can agencies be better aligned with their clients and drive success both for the client and the agency stakeholders?
The Medium Rules host, Alan Baldachin, is joined in the HBA Podcast Studio in New York City by Evan Kraut, who runs Grey Adventures for Grey Group, and Guy Poreh, founder and CEO of Playground. Grey Adventures is best characterized as Grey’s “skunk works” team, focused on developing innovative products and services that fuel new revenue streams for Grey’s brand clients, its partners and the agency itself. And Playground is a “record label” for startups which takes an “immersive” approach to partnering with funded startups on sales and marketing to “accelerate fame”. In this episode of The Medium Rules Alan, Evan and Guy cover such ground as the success story behind Quip, the intersection of frontier technology and the traditional agency model, branding issues related to legal cannabis businesses, and, finally, some thoughts about what the agency of the future might look like.
The Medium Rules on YouTube: Watch Now
More Episodes on iTunes: Subscribe
Conversations with founders, investors and thought leaders in the orbit of HBA’s tech and media ecosystem and beyond. How are media and technology companies conceived, how do they scale, and how do they interact with the broader social, economic and political culture we live in today and that we will inhabit in the future. This is a show about innovation and its effects on our lives, hosted by HBA’s managing partner and head of media and technology, Alan Baldachin.
Listen now on iTunes.
The number of US lawsuits filed by visually impaired and other disabled people targeting business websites for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has reached fever pitch. Recent court rulings have emboldened plaintiffs’ attorneys and a significant uptick in litigation is expected in 2018. New York has proven particularly welcoming to these cases, with nearly 300 ADA website lawsuits targeting retail, fashion, and financial institutions filed in New York’s federal courts in the first quarter of 2018.
Despite this explosion of activity, many businesses are still unaware of the legal risk and continue to operate websites that fall short of accepted accessibility standards, courting ADA claims. Although monetary damages are unavailable under the ADA, these cases are not easily dismissed and the defense costs can be significant. To help minimize the lawsuit risk, businesses should consider proactive measures to ensure their websites meet the current accessibility standard.
NYU’s Stern School of Business offers it’s MBA students the opportunity to work with emerging fashion companies through its’ CFDA Masters Workshop. Stern students are paired with designers to work on a variety of financial, marketing and other business-related projects.
Check out a short video on the program here featuring partner Douglas Hand, who is also the professor of the Fashion Law & Business course offered at both NYU School of Law & NYU Stern School of Business.
Design patents typically do not offer wide protection for fashion products. While relatively cheap to obtain compared to utility patents, design patents typically still cost several thousand dollars to register. Furthermore, design patents can only be obtained if an item has been on sale for less than a year and fashion designers often do not want to commit to a registration until and unless a design demonstrates that it will be a core product line going forward. Trade dress, on the other hand, does not require any formal filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, those seeking trade dress protection must also prove that the design has no functional component, as well as prove that the item conveys a distinctive secondary meaning to consumers that would be jeopardized by the sale of imitations.
Instagram has emerged as a channel to fight back against duplicate for several reasons. As HBA lawyer and NYU fashion law professor Douglas Hand stated in the recent article Designers Take Copyright Infringement Into Their Own Hands in the Business of Fashion, “copyright protection for designs, even post Star Athletica [v. Varsity Brands], is relatively thin when compared to Europe and other jurisdictions.” Therefore, the U.S. legal system may be an insufficient means for designers to successfully protect their designs. Additionally, smaller brands and up-and-coming designers often have neither the financial resources nor the time to litigate. Litigation is also undesirable because these small brands and designers frequently just want the offending designs removed from market and do not want a prolonged court battle.
On June 19, the Supreme Court ruled in Matal v. Tam that the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) could no longer deny trademark registrations for “marks that disparage the members of a racial or ethnic group.” Before this decision, the PTO used the Lanham Act’s Disparagement Clause as its legal basis for prohibiting protection for offensive names. The Court held, however, that the Disparagement Clause violated the First Amendment, reasoning that “Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”
The Court’s decision has important ramifications for the NFL’s Washington Redskins and other sports teams with names and mascots that many consider to be offensive. The “Redskins” was considered racially offensive on several occasions by the PTO and was held to be ineligible for federal trademark registration. The Supreme Court’s decision allows for the Redskins name to receive the benefits of federal registration.