Category Archives: Federal Cases

Supreme Court Holds Cheerleader Uniform Designs Are Copyrightable

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court held that decorative designs affixed to cheerleader uniforms may be entitled to copyright protection under the Copyright Act of 1976. The decision determined the proper approach to analyzing whether and how pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features can be identified separately from the utilitarian aspects of a useful article, potentially making such features eligible for copyright protection.

Varsity Brands, Inc., Varsity Spirit Corporation, and Varsity Spirit Fashions & Supplies, Inc. (together, “Varsity Brands”) design, manufacture, and sell cheerleading uniforms.  Varsity Brands holds numerous U.S. copyright registrations for uniform designs, including the following:  Continue reading

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SpongeBob Restaurant Found To Infringe Viacom’s Trademark

On January 11, 2017, the Southern District of Texas granted Viacom International Inc. summary judgment on its trademark infringement claim against IJR Capital Investments, LLC’s name for its proposed restaurant, “The Krusty Krab.”

“The Krusty Krab” is a fictional restaurant that, since 1999, has appeared on Nickelodeon’s animated television series “SpongeBob SquarePants.” In response to IJR’s filing of an intent-to-use application for THE KRUSTY KRAB and preparations to use that mark in connection with restaurant services., Viacom sued alleging, among other things, trademark infringement and dilution.  Continue reading

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Federal Circuit Reverses Refusal of DOTBLOG Mark

The Federal Circuit recently reversed the TTAB’s refusal to register the mark DOTBLOG, which the TTAB had found to be descriptive for Internet blog search services.

On the trademark distinctiveness spectrum, a mark is descriptive if it “immediately conveys knowledge of a quality, feature, function or characteristic of the goods or services with which it is used.”  Such marks do not function as source indicators and are refused registration unless they can be shown to have obtained secondary meaning in the minds of the consuming public.  On the other hand, a mark is suggestive (and does not a require a showing of secondary meaning) if it “requires imagination, thought and perception to reach a conclusion as to the nature of the goods.”   Continue reading