Category Archives: Uncategorized

Update – CSV Exports from All Tools!

TM TKO has allowed direct exports of CSV files from watch via email for several months. By popular request, we have expanded that feature across our toolset.

You can now export results from CSV for: knockout results, manual search results, watch results, and Office Action research results. Just look to your usual “Export” selection list in the top right of your results.

csv_export

We hope you enjoy this added flexibility.

Dev Blog – Tech Upgrades and New Features

TM TKO has recently rolled out a significant upgrade to its back end platform. The changes should significantly speed up certain types of searches, especially certain types of manual searches and watches. The new back-end also opens up a lot of options for us from a development perspective.

The first “front-end” upgrade available as a result of these back-end changes is the ability to sort the results of all new manual searches, including via relevance, mark, mark length, mark word count, filing, publication, registration, abandonment, and status dates, attorney, correspondent firm, owner, Examiner, and law office. Find this under “Sort by” in the upper-right corner of your manual search results table. This should be a nice quality-of-life enhancement for your day-to-day searching and diligence projects!

sort

We’re looking forward to all the new enhancements and tools that we can now develop more easily with these back-end upgrades.

Weak Marks and Disclaimed Terms – The Lesser Side of Trademark Life

Trademark law views marks on a continuum of strength – the strongest marks are coined or arbitrary marks, followed by suggestive marks, with descriptive marks and then unprotectable generic terms bringing up the rear. While a strong, enforceable mark is ideal, brand owners often desire marks towards the suggestive or descriptive side of the spectrum to make it resonate more with consumers.

We at TM TKO were curious whether certain types of industries found more value in weaker marks than others. Accordingly, we did some research as to how common disclaimers and Supplemental Register registrations were among active applications and registrations in various classes.

Full data is at the bottom of this blog post.

Goods vs. Services

Both disclaimers and Supplemental Register registrations were more common for services than goods, with 21% disclaimers in goods vs. 35% in services and 3% disclaimers for goods vs. 4% disclaimers for services.

Disclaimer Trends

Among goods, disclaimer volume was fairly evenly distributed. Classes 3, 16, 19 had rates over 20%; the 29, 30, 31, and 32 all had very high rates of over 30%. Perhaps foods and drinks find more value than most industries in including the generic term for the product in addition to the distinctive part of the brand; the higher levels of disclaimers is a clear trend.

Among services, disclaimers were considerably more common. Classes 35, 36, 37, 41, and 44 all exceeded 30%, and Class 43 (restaurants and hotels) had a whopping 44% disclaimer rate – apparently, the pressing biological needs for food and drink and rest make identifying the nature of the establishment more central than these than for other services. It certainly correlates with the trends for food and drink goods.

Supplemental Register Trends

The largest Supplemental Register percentages were in Classes 16 (books and other printed matter), 35 (retail and a bunch more), 36 (insurance and financial services) 44 (medical services), 45 (legal, security, and social services), and Class B (services certification marks). Class 16 also appeared under the most common disclaimers, perhaps reflecting a trend in magazine titles or educational material titles that are more likely to find value in descriptive terms or marks?

Supplemental Register registrations were quite rare in Class 1 (chemicals), 18 (leather goods), 23 (yarn), and 24 (textiles). It’s not clear to us why admittedly descriptive marks would be more common for these sorts of products, but between leather, yarn, and textiles, they are related goods, so appears to be a trend for these related industries. Disclaimers were pretty low in each of those classes, too, so it appears to be a real trend.

Doing These Searches in TM TKO

Go to “Search,” the manual search section, then use the “Register” option (to narrow to Supplemental) or the “Disclaimer Present” option (to find those that have a disclaimer of some sort), plus class and “Lifecycle Status” set to “active.”

Data

The full data follows. Keep in mind that the numbers reflect the number of active filings that contain a class.

Class Disclaimers Disc. % Supplemental Supp. % Total
1 9,680 14% 967 1% 66,952
2 3,436 17% 357 2% 20,070
3 31,130 25% 2,629 2% 125,425
4 4,225 21% 344 2% 20,487
5 27,146 20% 3,032 2% 137,096
6 9,991 19% 1,133 2% 52,652
7 14,607 17% 1,749 2% 87,053
8 6,076 19% 692 2% 32,836
9 76,444 17% 10,890 2% 458,915
10 12,195 15% 1,776 2% 79,881
11 14,330 17% 1,891 2% 85,820
12 10,875 17% 1,114 2% 62,560
13 2,527 19% 319 2% 13,313
14 9,996 17% 1,203 2% 58,456
15 1,476 14% 287 3% 10,657
16 42,451 26% 5,946 4% 162,680
17 4,155 14% 499 2% 29,456
18 9,930 15% 765 1% 65,283
19 8,002 22% 858 2% 36,811
20 14,597 21% 1,580 2% 70,427
21 16,513 20% 1,889 2% 81,957
22 2,260 17% 250 2% 13,160
23 555 11% 40 1% 4,961
24 7,473 19% 578 1% 38,773
25 47,560 17% 6,565 2% 274,732
26 3,407 18% 389 2% 18,494
27 2,355 17% 217 2% 14,068
28 23,434 21% 2,224 2% 114,245
29 23,184 34% 1,902 3% 68,707
30 39,942 36% 3,030 3% 111,549
31 11,409 30% 995 3% 38,162
32 18,775 33% 1,297 2% 57,606
33 16,544 25% 1,386 2% 66,419
34 4,337 19% 506 2% 22,429
35 126,257 33% 14,360 4% 387,959
36 63,741 38% 6,010 4% 166,369
37 29,557 35% 2,224 3% 83,478
38 11,982 22% 1,390 3% 55,426
39 19,598 36% 1,592 3% 55,071
40 13,687 31% 1,069 2% 43,939
41 125,618 34% 14,893 4% 367,443
42 68,428 25% 8,640 3% 277,737
43 39,419 44% 2,317 3% 90,458
44 35,277 37% 3,928 4% 94,184
45 19,117 29% 2,509 4% 65,499
A 986 25% 30 1% 3,928
B 1,563 29% 245 5% 5,392
200 1,458 26% 83 1% 5,599
Goods 439,660 21% 53,831 3% 2,052,927
Services 446,962 35% 50,537 4% 1,295,357

Trademark Application Pendency – Jan. 2018

The USPTO’s trademark dashboard has a high-level summary of the status of its overall performance on examinations. The Office aims for an average of under 12 months from filing to abandonment/allowance/registration, and less than 3.5 months from filing to the first examination action. The latter has crept up from a low of about 2.5 months until average first examination in Q3 2017 to 3.5 months until average first examination in Q4 2018 and Q1 2019. The “inventory” of applications awaiting examination also has risen over that same time frame, although is starting to drop again in January 2019.

These figures just look at the averages, though – this blog post will focus on outliers: those applications that are really slow to get their first review from the Office.

Filing Date “New” status “Examined” status Total
2017 22  
Jan.-Jun. 2018 2,429  
July 2018 775 35,566 38,341
Aug. 2018 550 38,600 39,150
Sept. 2018 683 34,386 35,069
Oct. 2018 18,414 18,414 36,828
Nov. 2018 30,028 2,907 32,935
Dec. 2018 29,836 982 30,818
Jan. 2019 (partial) 25,204 20 (largely express abandonments) 27,224

The 2017 filings were especially interesting – it looks like a lot of these were rather intentionally avoided because they could be hairy to prosecute. One is a color scheme related to hospital sanitary tracking, several raise 2(a) issues both of the garden variety (WITCH AS FUCK and MANIFEST THAT SHIT and #ALLGRATEFULANDSHIT and a couple more) and the truly unpleasant (a swastika). Some had no obvious reason for basically getting ignored, like DIOR GENESE (which seems to have been picked up recently, and just got its XSearch review) and DICSSIN (which also got its search summary). This seems to be a concerted effort from the USPTO – it matches scuttlebutt on the Oppendahl E-Trademarks listserv that some senior lawyers from the Petitions and Assistant Commissioners’ office have been loaned out internally to help deal with deep backlog.

Among the first-half-of-2018 stragglers, there is a similar mix – lots that are slow to get examined for no immediately obvious reason, and some where it feel like there is more intent from the Office. CBD and hemp applications, which accounted for nearly 1/5th of the not-yet-examined applications from early 2018. The Office is also examining plenty of CBD/hemp applications, although slightly fewer applications than have not been examined – definitely weird for 6+ month old applications. This does not feel like it is an informal Office policy; it’s at least as likely that, given some discretion, Examiners are leaning towards dealing with applications that are likely to yield simpler examinations and quicker pendency times. There does not appear to be any other easy to identify pattern in “delayed examinations” based on mark or goods, nor any pattern about counsel of record.

Trademark Protection and Concert Halls

While you can see a great concert anywhere, seeing a great show in a great venue that’s seen countless great performances over its years adds to the experience. This blog post looks at what the top 20 venues, per a 2016 list compiled by Consequence Of Sound, have been doing to protect the brands associated with the iconic venues.

Fourteen of the twenty have at least one trademark registration. The most popular class, by far, was Class 41, covering some sort of live music services – the venue itself. The next most popular were food/drink-related classes, like bar services (Class 43 or, in older registrations, 42) and then merchandising, especially clothing in Class 25.

Venue Registrations Classes Owner Counsel
The Fillmore 6 6, 16, 25, 35, 41 Live Nation Worldwide, Inc. Ellie Schwimmer
The Bowery Ballroom 2 35, 41 Cocktail Blue, LLC Lawrence Apolzon
Metro Chicago 2 41 Stages-Music Hall, Inc.

DBA Cabaret Metro

Kimberly Brown Mosberg
Hollywood Bowl
9:30 Club 2 25, 41, 43 Sledge, Inc. Camille Miller
Stubb’s 14 4, 29, 30, 41, 43 One World Foods, Inc.  
Red Rocks Amphitheater 3 41, 42 City and County of Denver Leigh Augustine
Great Scott
The Gorge
Ryman Auditorium 7 14, 16, 20, 25, 28, 36, 37, 41 Grand Ole Opry IP, LLC Edward Playfair
First Avenue and 8th St. Entry 5 (2 pending) 25, 41, 42 (9, 10, 14, 16, 21, 28, 35, 41, 43) F-Troop LLC James Young
Cat’s Cradle
Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace 5 (2 pending) 25, 41, 43 (30) No Regrets Coyote Inc. Gabrielle Holley
Tabernacle
Toad’s Place 2 42 World of Toads Development Corporation Jason Drangel
Electric Factory 1 41 Live Nation Worldwide, Inc. Ellie Schwimmer
Doug Fir Lounge 1 43 Burnside Entertainment Group LLC David Peterson
40 Watt Club
Doug Weston’s Troubadour 1 41 Troubadour Enterprises, Inc. Burton Jacobson
The Hideout 1 41 Hideout Inn, Inc. Grant Peters

Two New ThorCheck Tools from TM TKO

TM TKO is excited to announce two powerful additions to its core ThorCheck™ trademark research tool. The two central factors of the likelihood of confusion analysis are the similarity of the marks and the relationship between the goods and services. ThorCheck “classic” generates registry-based evidence for the goods and services relationship.

The two new additions to ThorCheck bring its powerful comparison engine to bear on questions of mark similarity.  If you represent a junior party, you can use these tools to identify evidence of mark co-existence that can help convince Examiners, counter-parties, or a court that your client’s mark should be able to co-exist with a prior mark. If you represent a senior party, you can find evidence over overlap – that the same company owns multiple marks that contain a single term (Term Coexistence) or that the same company owns marks that differ only (or mainly) by the term you search for (Term Difference). This powerful evidence takes hours to track down manually, but ThorCheck makes the research instantaneous – you can do your best work, and work much more efficiently.

Term Coexistence

Use this tool to find examples of co-existing registrations in the same class that contain both of the relevant terms. For example, if your client’s mark was NIGHT HAWK and the other party’s mark was BRIGHT BIRD, the following search identifies instances where active, use-based registrations containing HAWK coexist on the registry with registrations containing BIRD in the same class.

thor_term_coexist

Results pairs are organized by class. Within a class, these with marks that share another common term prioritized, like the BLACKHAWK vs BLACKBIRD registrations shown below. This search identifies dozens of high-quality matches similar to BLACKHAWK vs BLACKBIRD, plus many, many more “looser” matches.

thor_term_coexist_result

As with all ThorCheck reports, you can export tagged records via Word to incorporate the summary chart into a draft Office Action Response or other document, or export TSDR status and title copies to make this quality evidence official “of record” in your prosecution history file or TTAB proceeding.

Term Difference

Use the “Term Difference” tool to identify instances where two owners have marks in a single class that differ by a term. The second new tool requires only one input: the term by which they differ. So, if your mark differs from a prior mark largely due to the term PURPLE, you can enter that term and find other instances of co-existing registrations that differ only by this term. Since this tool is prioritizing results that share a common term (whatever that term is), it’s almost impossible to duplicate manually without hours and hours of effort.

The excerpt below shows sample results for the PURPLE search. Results that differ ONLY by the word “purple,” like PURPLE HEAT vs HEAT and PURPLESTAR vs STAR & Design in the example below, are prioritized. The full report identifes dozens of matches.

thor_difference_result

We can’t wait to see how you use these new ThorCheck options!

 

Using Office Action Search for TTAB-Related Research

With TM TKO’s Office Action research tools, you can easily see how the Examining corps and applicant-side trademark attorneys are using Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decisions.

We will look at a selection of recent precedential decisions from the TTAB and outcomes where Examiners or applicants citing to these decisions. I focused on USPQ citations, which may under-count the decisions slightly, and may miss citations issued right after the cases came out and before a USPQ number is assigned, but it suffices for a quick read of relative citation frequency.

Case Decision First Citation Pub. Rate
In re Minerva Associates, Inc., 125 USPQ2d 1634 (TTAB 2018) Allowed screenshots of software login & search screens as specimens – 1 cite by USPTO
– 4/1/2018 second Office Action

– 13 cites from applicants
– first cite: 2/28/2018 Office Action Response

Pub: 3
Reg: 8
Pending pre-pub: 2
Abandoned: 0

Specimen issues are common but are frequently resolved in prosecution. Even by those standards, applicants citing Minerva have been quite successful.

Specimen issues are common but are frequently resolved in prosecution. Even by those standards, applicants citing Minerva have been quite successful.

Case Decision First Citation Pub. Rate
Grote Industries v. Truck-Lite Co., LLC f/k/a/ Truck-Lite Co., Inc., 126 USPQ2d 1197 (TTAB 2018) Truck light design not functional under 2(e)(5) but had not acquired distinctiveness under 2(f) – 1 cite by USPTO
– 6/14/2018 Office Action, replacing an earlier final Office Action from December with a non-final Office Action account for the Grote decision

– not cited by any applicants yet

Pub: 0
Reg: 0
Pending pre-pub: 1
Abandoned: 0

Functionality refusals are quite rare – a couple of hundred Office Actions in 2018 to date. It’s little surprise that this March 2018 decision has gotten little traction from either the USPTO’s examining corps or applicants’ counsel so far.

Case Decision First Citation Pub. Rate
In re Shabby Chic Brands LLC, 122 USPQ2d 1139 (TTAB 2017) Design was a “simulation” of Prince of Wales’ official insignia under 2(a) – 3 cites by USPTO
– 4/12/2018 first Office Action for this principle of law (the same application on remand)

 

– 3 cites by applicants
– 12/22/2017 first Office Action Response

Pub: 2
Reg: 0
Pending pre-pub: 3
Abandoned: 1

Insignia refusals under Section 2(b) of the Lanham Act are one of the very least common types of refusals, with under 120 in 2018. Most of these relate to US or Swiss flags, so the Welsh insignia here is especially uncommon. An uncommon fact pattern in an overall uncommon refusal has generated only a handful of citations to the case, although respondents referencing it have been relatively successful.

Case Decision First Citation Pub. Rate
Primrose Retirement Communities, LLC v. Edward Rose Senior Living, LLC, 122 USPQ2d 1030 (TTAB 2016) On evidence that registered PRIMROSE co-existed with multiple direct competitors using the same mark, overturns 2(d) citation for ROSE SENIOR LIVING – 2,261 cites from USPTO
– 199 cites by applicants
– 4/26/2017 first Office Action Response
Pub: 241
Reg: 93
Pending pre-pub: 1689
Abandoned: 571

What on earth is going on with the Primrose case, which was first cited almost four months after its issuance and hardly cited to at all for almost a year and a half, and, more recently, is cited constantly? In an October 2017 update, the Trademark Manual of Examination Procedure added references to Primrose to its sections about sophisticated purchasers (1207.01(d)(vii)) and third-party registration and use evidence (1207.01(d)(iii)). The case is often used to support the sophisticated purchaser principal by Examining Attorneys, and applicants’ counsel are especially likely to cite to the latter principal about third-party evidence. The uptick in citations to Primrose occurred recently enough that most of the Office Actions and Responses referring to Primrose haven’t reached a final decision.

How Can You Do This Sort of Research?

If you want to see how other lawyers are effectively referencing key TTAB decisions that you want to use in your own writing, you can sign up for a thirty-day free trial of TM TKO. You’ll get unlimited use of our tools, too: instant, smart search, unlimited watch and 2(d) citation watching, ThorCheck, and other unique research tools.