Trademark Watch: Converse, #Coke, Victoria’s Secret and more

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Knockoff Chucks: Converse’s Chuck Taylors are recognized around the world—and the company is no stranger to lawsuits. In fact, they have gone up against major retailers such as Walmart, Kmart and Sketchers in a bid to protect the iconic sneaker design. Now, however, it’s Converse that’s the brand being chased.

New Balance is after the Nike-owned brand with its bid to cancel the same trademark registration that protects Converse from infringers. New Balance is taking issue with “the combination of a toe bumper, toe cap, and striped midsole, U.S. Reg. No. 4,398,753, because the claimed features are either ornamental or functional and cannot serve as a source identifier, or at the very least, such features have not and cannot acquire secondary meaning.”

New Balance feels the features are distinguishable and shouldn’t be protected. What do you think?[more]

#Coke: Hashtags probably won’t make your trademark more distinctive, but they can help you become a trending topic on Twitter. No stranger to trademark regulations, soft drink giant Coca-Cola is trying its hand at seeking trademarks with hashtags in them.

The beverage behemoth’s Atlanta-based lawyers have filed for #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke. The brand’s goal in attempting to trademark hashtags is to encourage and sustain both socially-driven behaviors with a consistent, owned hashtag. But will it turn out to be a #smartmove … or #epicfail?

Peacefully Coexist: Victoria’s Secret has pulled out of its yearlong fight with Rebekah Doolittle’s The Pink Store. The lingerie retailer claimed that Doolitte’s brand would cause confusion with its own youthful Pink brand. Back in August, Victoria’s Secret lost its trademark battle in UK with Thomas Pink, the shirt maker, which may have sparked the change of heart.

Negative Naming Association: A named picked because of its warm, familiar feel is now being shied away from because of negative connotations. The band Cosby Sweater has opted to rename itself after recent criminal allegations against Bill Cosby, stating in a press release, “Recently the word ‘Cosby’ has developed a negative connotation in the news, and the elephant in the room has become too big to ignore. That once comfortable feeling associated with the band name is now surrounded with a preconceived thought that doesn’t reflect what the band represents.

Now the band will be known as Turbo Suit. Why, you might ask? “A Turbo Suit is the suit that exemplifies how ‘You Do You’ the best. It is the band morphing out of Cosby Sweater and into something that is fresh, fast, and stylish.” I

It’s by no means uncommon for a brand (or brand) to change its name due to negative naming associations. Last year, for example, Isis Wallet changed its name to distance its brand from the ISIS terrorist organization. 

Even non-negative connotations have prompted band-naming legal tussles: remember the Curious George vs. Furious George trademark battle in the 90’s?

—Nicole is a Brooklyn native, San Fran explorer and lipstick lover. Follow her on Twitter: @msnicole15

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