Bob’s Red Mill rejects adoption of Gluten-Free Certification Mark

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This trademark action sees Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, a popular producer of natural, certified organic, and gluten-free milled grain products, seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement of a “Certified Gluten-Free” certification mark owned by the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

Bob’s Red Mill has been producing gluten-free products for over 30 years, using several indicators over time to denote the gluten-free quality. They currently use the following indicator on packaging and on their website:

On May 17, 2018, Bob’s Red Mill received the following email asking that it stop using its own indicator, become certified with the “Gluten-Free Certification Organization,” and adopt the Defendant’s Certification Mark:

Bob’s Red Mill notes in the Complaint that it has never claimed certification by any outside organization and that “[t]here is no federal standard for ‘gluten-free.'”

Rejecting those requests, Bob’s Red Mill brings this lawsuit to obtain a judgment declaring that it may use its own gluten-free indicator, without having to seek the permission of, or pay money to, the Gluten Intolerance Group.

Stay tuned for updates.

Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Inc. v. Gluten Intolerance Group of North America

Court Case Number: 3:18-cv-960-HZ
File Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018
Plaintiff: Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Clifford S. Davidson of Sussman Shank LLP
Defendant: Gluten Intolerance Group of North America
Causes: Declaratory Judgment of Non-Infringement
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Marco A. Hernandez

Complaint:

THERAPIA v. THERAPYDIA…are you confused?

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The plaintiff in this trademark lawsuit has been using the unregistered THERAPIA trademark for 7 years in connection with alternative medical services such as acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, massage, fertility consultation and treatment, and herbal medicine. Therapia operates in Portland, Oregon and promotes its services via its website, http://www.therapiaclinic.com.

The defendant, Therapydia Inc., is a national network of physical therapy and wellness clinics. Therapydia has locations in Portland, Beaverton, and Lake Oswego. Therapydia provides traditional (vs. alternative) medical services.

The Plaintiff first learned of Therapydia in mid-2016, and alleges instances of actual confusion beginning in January 2018, “with many patients calling Therapia to schedule appointments with Therapydia and consumers mistaking Therapydia advertisements for Therapia advertisements.”

This trademark case should be interesting. Stay tuned for updates.

Therapia P.C. v. Therapydia, Inc.

Court Case Number: 3:18-cv-909
File Date: May 24, 2018
Plaintiff: Therapia, P.C.
Plaintiff Counsel: Elizabeth Tedesco Milesnick, Andrea Selkregg of IDEALEGAL
Defendant: Therapydia, Inc.
Causes: Federal Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Unjust Enrichment, Common Law Unfair Competition
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Michael H. Simon

Complaint:

 

Actual consumer confusion alleged in lawsuit over WESTCARE trademark

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The plaintiff in this lawsuit, Westcare, is a Salem, Oregon-based provider of management services to long-term care facilities. Plaintiff claims to have used their “Westcare” mark since 1987. Plaintiff obtained a federal trademark registration in October 2017.

The defendant, Westcare Foundation, is a Nevada non-profit corporation that operates long-term and short-term care facilities, including a veterans’ facility in Salem, Oregon.

The defendant allegedly first began operating in Oregon in June 2012. Plaintiff became aware of the defendant’s Oregon facility in June 2016, and asserts numerous instances of actual consumer confusion.

Plaintiff sent a series of letters requesting that defendant adopt a DBA, with no success, hence this lawsuit. Stay tuned for updates.

Westcare Management, Inc. v. Westcare Foundation, Inc.

Court Case Number: 6:18-cv-00764-MC
File Date: Thursday, May 3, 2018
Plaintiff: Westcare Management, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Randall P. Sutton of Saalfeld Griggs PC
Defendant: Westcare Foundation, Inc.
Causes: Unfair Competition, State Trademark Dilution, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Michael J. McShane

Complaint:

Software company sues Nike for breach of contract, software piracy

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The Plaintiff in this action, Quest Software, Inc., is a California-based software company that “develops and supports software used by database professionals for cloud management, security, workforce mobility and data-driven insight.”

A January 2017 audit revealed that one of its customers, Oregon-based shoe and apparel giant Nike, had deployed Plaintiff’s software in excess of the scope allowed by the parties’ SLA. The Complaint also alleges that Nike “had used pirated keys to bypass the Quest License Key System.”

Per the Complaint (below), when confronted by Plaintiff about the unauthorized uses, Nike refused to purchase additional licenses, hence this lawsuit.

Quest Software, Inc. v. Nike Inc.

Court Case Number: 3:18-cv-00721-BR
File Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Plaintiff: Quest Software, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Thomas A. Lerner, Theresa H. Wang, Bradford J. Axel of Stokes Lawrence, P.S.
Defendant: Nike, Inc.
Causes: Breach of Contract, Copyright Infringement, Violation of Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Anna J. Brown

Complaint:

Should You Register Your Trademark?

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Businesses often inquire whether it’s in their best interest to register their trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).

The traditional short answer is: “Yes, if at all possible, you should register your trademarks!” This advice has been widely echoed by qualified intellectual property attorneys.

However, the reality of this economy is that small businesses, non-profits and individuals aren’t able to do everything a lawyer says they SHOULD do.  In Oregon and abroad, the bottom line counts now more than ever.  Thousands spent on obtaining a trademark registration are thousands not spent on other aspects of your business, like R&D, Marketing or Payroll.  As such, I often find it helpful to discuss with clients not only what they SHOULD do, but what they CAN do and what they MUST do.

trademark-symbolThe purpose of this post is to give you additional financial information with which you can decide whether to register your trademarks. Some lawyers will tell you it’s “expensive.”  The same lawyers might tell other clients that it’s “not expensive.”  I’ll lay out some real numbers that you can actually put into your budget.

First, keep in mind that registration of  trademarks is not required. Common law rights arise naturally from actual use of a trademark. Generally, the first entity to either use a trademark in commerce or file an intent to use application with the USPTO has the ultimate right to use and registration. However, filing for and receiving a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages:

  • constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark;
  • a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
  • the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
  • the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
  • the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.

Optimally, all trademark owners who consider their trademark a valuable business asset (…and if not, why continue using the mark?) would like to obtain these advantages.  But registration is not free.  Here are some of the likely fees (based on the USPTO’s current Fee Schedule, last revised 1/16/18) that you will face before and during the registration procedure:

Clearance Search – Before adopting and using a trademark, it’s advised that a trademark clearance search be performed to determine the availability of the trademark. This will help determine whether there is another user already using the trademark, i.e. having superior rights in the trademark. By performing an initial trademark clearance search, a business can avoid incurring liability for trademark infringement and avoid investing resources in a trademark which could be unusable because it infringes another’s trademark rights. Expect the clearance search to cost $200-400.

A commercial research service like Thomson CompuMark, which conducts the actual search on its many databases, will cost around $700. Add attorney time to review and report on the results.

Application Filing Fee – The official filing fee is $275-$325 per trademark. Your  attorney will charge a fee for the application preparation and filing.

Filing an Amendment to Allege Use/Statement of Use $100. Both the Amendment to Allege Use and Statement of Use serve a similar function…they alert the USPTO that you are now using the trademark in commerce. This is important for intent-to-use applications where a trademark application is filed prior to actual use because registration cannot be obtained until the trademark has been used in commerce. Your attorney will spend time gathering specimens, and preparing and filing the necessary documents.

Extension of Time for Filing a Statement of Use – $150. It is possible to obtain up to six (6) extensions of time to file a Statement of Use. Each extension is for six (6) months, up to a total of thirty-six (36) months.  Of course, each extension must be accompanied by a fee. There will also be some nominal attorney time to prepare the extension.

Response to Office Action – Office actions are letters from the USPTO that set forth the legal status of a trademark application. Typically, the examining attorney will set forth specific requirements that the applicant must meet before an application can be approved for publication. Believe it or not, there is no filing fee for a Response to Office Action. However, a majority of your attorney’s time in the application procedure will likely be spent reviewing and responding to office actions.

Looking into the future, you’ll want to keep in mind the renewal costs which will be paid after five (5) years. Expect to pay $500+ for each class of goods and services that your trademark protects. For example, if a band wants to protect its band name for both “musical services” and “t-shirts,”  it will be paying filing fees for two separate classes of protection. This applies to filing fees also.

Notwithstanding the renewal costs, and assuming that no extensions, etc. are required, you’re looking at approximately $1000 just in filing fees for one trademark protecting one class of goods and services. On top of these established PTO fees, you’ll be paying your trademark attorney for each document prepared or filing made. Therefore, choosing a trademark attorney who provides excellent service at a lower cost can greatly enhance your bottom line. Also, these are just some of the more common fees you will face in registering your trademark…there may be additional filings/costs associated with a trademark registration, depending on the specifics of your trademark and the strategy of your attorney.

So, should you register your trademark??? The traditional answer still rings true…if fiscally possible, do it. Trademarks are valuable business assets that are typically far greater in value than any costs associated with registration. Always bear in mind that economies rise and fall, but trademark rights can continue indefinitely. Unfortunately, that means that spending less today to protect your trademark rights may allow another party to intervene and lock up important trademark rights for the future.  Also, be sure to consider how licensing opportunities might be affected should you not register your trademarks.

Final practical note: Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the “TM” (trademark) or “SM” (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. It’s free and reinforces good habits among those wearing the “marketing” hat.

Seed companies in trademark dispute over MINICLOVER vs. MICROCLOVER for clover seeds

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The plaintiff in this declaratory judgment action, Outsidepride.com, Inc., seeks a declaration that its MINICLOVER trademark has not infringed the defendant’s rights in its MICROCLOVER® branded clover seed.

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Outsidepride.com, Inc. v. DLF Pickseed USA, Inc.

Court Case Number:  6:18-cv-00117
File Date: Monday, January 22, 2018
Plaintiff: Outsidepride.com, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Carl D. Crowell of Crowell Law
Defendant: DLF Pickseed USA, Inc.
Causes: Unenforceability of Trademark, Non-infringement of Trademark
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Ann L. Aiken

Complaint:

Oregon Trademark Registration

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Clients often inquire whether they should register their trademarks at the State or Federal level. Starting with the assumption that even small local businesses may encounter a challenge to their trademark in the future, I generally try to impress upon them the advantages of federal registration. After all, many of my clients end up being successful and seek to expand outside of Oregon’s borders. The Internet provides opportunities for national and global expansion, even for the smallest Oregon businesses.  It is therefore important for businesses of all types and sizes to choose and protect their trademarks with care…often this can mean protection at BOTH the State and Federal level.

Here’s a quick primer on registration of a trademark in Oregon:

Trademarks are registered with the Oregon Secretary of State. There is a non-refundable fee of $50 for filing a trademark application, and the registration must be renewed every 5 years. The Secretary of State website provides access to trademark registration forms and a searchable database of active trademark registrations.

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Registration of a trademark with the Oregon Secretary of State creates a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark in Oregon commerce in connection with the goods or services described in the application. (A federal registration would protect your trademark in all states where it is used.)

The Oregon Trademark Act (ORS 647) protects words, names, symbols or designs, or any combinations thereof when they are used to distinguish the source of the goods or services rendered by one party from the goods or services of another party. Marks are checked against other marks registered in Oregon, but not against corporate, fictitious, or assumed names.

Oregon trademark rights arise from actual use of the mark in commerce, i.e. there are no “intent-to-use” applications.

A mark cannot be registered until it has been used in Oregon. Oregon defines a mark being “used” when it is placed in any manner on the goods or their containers or on the tags or labels affixed thereto, or when it is used to identify the services of one person and distinguish them from the services of others, and such goods or services are sold, distributed, or rendered in Oregon.

So what are some of the main benefits of state registration over federal registration?  It’s cheaper (State – $50/class vs. Federal – $275/class) and quicker. I’ve seen turnaround of weeks, not months or years as with the USPTO. State registration can be a good remedy for a purely local entity. State registration provides an increased level of trademark protection…at least you can claim protection on your “home turf.”  However, in the long run, I’d recommend that any entity which anticipates expanding outside of Oregon, particularly via Internet “e-commerce,” should seek federal trademark registration to best protect their valuable trademark rights.

Oregon trademark registrations must be renewed every 5 years.

A trademark registered under Oregon law:

  • Has a term of five years from the date of the registration.
  • May be renewed for successive five-year periods if statutory renewal requirements are met.

An Oregon trademark registrant may renew a registration for successive five-year periods by filing an application for renewal within 180 days before the expiration of the registration. The renewal application must include:

  • A renewal fee.
  • A verified statement that the mark has been and is still in use.
  • A specimen showing actual use of the mark on or in connection with the relevant goods or services.

(Or. Rev. Stat. § 647.055.)

I look forward to hearing from proponents of State registration…how has an Oregon State registration uniquely benefitted either you or your clients?

On Electric sues OEG for trademark infringement, unfair competition

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The plaintiff in this trademark lawsuit is an Oregon-based business “offering a full range of electrical services, including but not limited to residential, commercial and industrial services along with a comprehensive service department.” Plaintiff has used an ON ELECTRIC trademark since January 2015 in connection with its electrical services.

The defendant, OEG, allegedly began using an ON ELECTRIC trademark in connection with electrical services in August 2015. OEG apparently used to stand for “Oregon Electric Group” but it switched at some point to “On Electric Group.”

Both parties operate in Portland, Oregon and the surrounding areas. The complaint (below) alleges numerous instances of actual confusion among suppliers, advertisers, customers and others.

On Electric, LLC v. On Electric Group, Inc.

Court Case Number:  3:17-cv-01871-HZ
File Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Plaintiff: On Electric, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: David S. Aman of Aman Law, LLC
Defendant: On Electric Group, Inc.
Causes: Federal Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Marco A. Hernandez

Complaint:

Dr. Seuss Enterprises accused by author of stealing Daisy-Head Mayzie

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This rather lengthy, interesting, and unorthodox copyright complaint, filed by a pro se author, accuses Dr. Seuss Enterprises of stealing the character “Daisy-Head Mayzie” from his children’s story, “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.”

Daisy-Head Mayzie is about a girl who suddenly sprouts a daisy from her head. Plaintiff’s story is about Lukus Loo, a boy(?) seemingly missing the top of his head, sometimes covering it with a crown, sometimes with three flowers. You be the judge after reading the Complaint (below). The Plaintiff’s itemized list of “plagiarized elements” begins on page 31 of the Complaint.

The Plaintiff has a long history with the Seuss estate, including several prior lawsuits, including most recently the Federal Court of Canada, which dismissed its suit on jurisdictional grounds in April 2017. The prior history, at least the Plaintiff’s side, is set forth in detail in the Complaint. The Dr. Seuss estate even had the Plaintiff arrested for extortion in 2003.

Quotes like these always make pro se lawsuits an interesting read:

In addition to the Complaint, the case also has some voluminous Exhibits which may merit further exploration by Dr. Seuss fans and historians.

Stay tuned for updates.

Steen v. Dr. Seuss Enterprises et al.

Court Case Number:  3:17-cv-01765-SB
File Date: Friday, November 3, 2017
Plaintiff: Charles Augustus Steen III
Plaintiff Counsel: Pro Se
Defendants: Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P., Penguin Random House
Causes: Copyright Infringement,
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Stacie F. Beckerman

Complaint: 

Breach of Contract over Moisturizing Personal Lubricant Leads to Lawsuit

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The Plaintiff, a Eugene, Oregon-based manufacturer of natural and organic intimacy and feminine hygiene products, “brings this action because Defendants have conspired to sabotage [Plaintiff]’s distribution in Canada, and then to use [Plaintiff]’s proprietary, confidential business information and intellectual property to launch a brand of products nearly identical to those marketed and sold by [Plaintiff].”

Plaintiff sells moisturizing personal lubricant products under the brand names RESTORE, ALMOST NAKED and GUILTY PLEASURE.

The dispute arises from a contractual relationship gone bad. See the Complaint (below) for the details.

Good Clean Love, Inc. v. Aurium Pharma Inc. et al

Court Case Number: 6:17-cv-01712-JR
File Date: October 26, 2017
Plaintiff: Good Clean Love, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: David P. Cooper, Owen W. Dukelow, Desmond J. Kidney of Kolisch Hartwell, P.C.
Defendants: Aurium Pharma Inc., Rowland Global LLC, Edward Rowland
Causes: Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin, Breach of Contract, Intentional Interference with Economic Relations, Unlawful Business Practices, Unlawful Trade Practices, Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Professional Negligence
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Jolie A. Russo

Complaint: