Minnetonka Based UnitedHealth Group Loses Domain Name Battle

Optum, Inc. v. Paul Mellen / Mellen Marketing Claim Number: FA1712001762046 Optum, Inc., a subsidiary of Minnetonka based UnitedHealth Group recently filed claims against Mellen Marketing who had registered the domains <healthsafeid.com>, <healthsafeid.info>, <healthsafeid.net>, and <healthsafeid.org>.  Optum's attorney (Kenneth L. Wilton of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, California) based their claim, in part, on an allegation that Mellen had specifically targeted Optum and had repeatedly offered to sell the domains  for two-million dollars.  Mellon responded by alleging that the domains were registered in relation to a prior business he was engaged in, and that Optum first approached him about purchasing the domains.  The Panel deciding the matter found that Optum didn't began using the HEALTHSAFE ID Mark in commerce until October 1, 2016, and Mellon registered the domains  on March 22, 2016. The ICANN Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) requires that a complainant prove three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: the domain name registered by Respondent is...
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Is this a Scam? – Invoices to Maintain your Registration

Is this Invoice from the Patent & Trademark Organization a Scam? If you are asking this, the answer is probably yes. Over the years there has been an ever increasing number of private companies that have taken it upon themselves to offer either non-existent services or services that have no benefit to businesses registering their trademarks. The trademark scam typically starts with a very official looking letter arriving in the mail with a very official name on it like the "Patent & Trademark Agency," Patent & Trademark Organization," or "TPP – Trademark & Patent Publications." The letter mentions a real trademark application and then states that some fee is due to put it on their registry, or to block someone else from registering it on their register. Even if their register or publication exists, it provides no legal protection - it is just a vanity publication. Sometimes these fees are higher than what the person paid for their original application. These documents...
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Trademark Application Timeline

Trademark Application Timeline

How long does the trademark application process take? Answer: While there is no absolute answer - for most applications the  trademark application process takes between 8-12 months and can be broken into several stages - each with its own variables. Step One - Trademark Clearance: The first step is the one before you file the trademark application.  Prior to filings any trademark application, you should take time to review prior registrations that might block your application from being accepted.  This can be done by you or by a trademark lawyer. When working with an attorney, this involves discussing the mark and your business, and it typically takes between 1-7 days depending on the type of trademark screening you decide to have done and the attorney's workload. Step Two - Preparation of Application: Assuming your trademark is cleared, an application is prepared based on the information you provide, and if working with a trademark attorney, the analysis of the lawyer.  You can count on 2-3 days for this...
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Halloween Trademarks 2017 Edition

Halloween Trademarks 2017 Edition

While no one asked for it - here it is - 2017 Edition of Spooky Trademarks.  SHRED BUNDY - Tasteless on so many levels   LIFE AND DEATH - That's just weird - listed services sound very sophisticated though - "Consultation and advice regarding musical selections and arrangements for sound recordings and live performances"   UNDEAD BETTYS - Roller Derby rocks!!!!!!    SN87504276 - I just like this one due to the cinematographic nature of the description of the image, which I find kinda scary: The mark consists of seven figures around a four-sided table; six of the figures are animals (from upper right proceeding clockwise: donkey, horse, boar, goat, duck, and lion); between the duck and the lion is a female human (an ale wife/barmaid) wearing a headscarf and holding two tankards that she is bringing to the table; she wears a long apron; on the far side of the table a lion wears a doublet which tied around his waist using a rope belt; the doublet...
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Contract Consideration – FAQ

What does it mean for a contract to be not enforceable because of a lack of consideration? Answer: In order for a contract to be enforceable, the mutual promises of the parties must be supported by "consideration." Considerations means each party gives something of value to the other.  The reason that the courts and legislatures generally require some form of consideration is to insure that the promises being made are not merely a casual statement, and accident, or gratuitous – in short – to make sure the people making the agreement really mean it. Consideration looks at whether the parties have assumed an obligation on the condition of an act or forbearance of another. Except in cases of employment matters, Minnesota courts generally do not look at the adequacy of the consideration being offered – only whether some consideration has been exchanged. For written agreements, the court presumes valid consideration. While adequacy of consideration is not usually analyzed, vague or indefinite terms...
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Trump’s Trademark Issues

How long has Trump been planning this? Apparently Mr. Trump decided he liked the sound of "Make America Great Again" as  far back as 2012, when he first filed an application for the phrase with the Trademark Office (Serial 85783371).   However, in the application he seems to be  anticipating using it for a Political Action Committee, rather than for his own candidacy. The required list of services he listed were as follows: Political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues. (IC 035) Fundraising in the field of politics. (CIC 036) However he was apparently not ready to use it back then, as he did not finalize the registration until earlier this year - about a month before he formally announced. Trademark Issue #1 Subsequently, on August 13th two new filings  (86724115 , 86724213) were made by him for the phrase and include an exhaustive list of such items as   Bumper stickers; decorative decals for vehicle windows; stickers; advertising signs of papers; advertising signs of cardboard; placards and banners...
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Ten Cute Cat Trademarks

Ten Cute Cat Trademarks

Because cats make everything more entertaining.  (search using (03.01.04)[DD]  and  (2)[MD]).  A sample of 10 recent applications for cat related trademarks for your viewing pleasure. 1.  Content Kitty (such a peaceful face)   2.  Lethal Kitty (HiYA!!)   3.  Hello Kitty (one of many recently filed applications)   4. Butt Kitty (Ok -  this one creeps me out a little)   5. Knitted Kitty (this one is for "knitted underwear" -'nuff said -cool design)   6. Hipster Kitty (jeez - everyone knows cats prefer the chevron)   7. Creepy Kitty (with dog overlord)   8. Masked Kitty (what possible advantage would a cat have trying to pretend he's a dog?)   9. Anthropomorphic Kitty (why no shoes on the hands??)   10.  Plain old Cute Kitty (just because)   ...
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Color-only Trademarks

What do UPS, Tiffany and Co., and Owens Corning have in common?  The mere sight of the color of their product (Pullman Brown, Robin's Egg Blue, and Pink) brings to mind who they are without ever having to place a logo or word on their products.   These marks demonstrate how real people shop for goods and services and how trademarks are about providing a potential consumer resources to identify the source of the goods and services they are purchasing - while preventing others from using those identifiers to create consumer confusion. Color Trademarks The leading case involving color as a trademark is  Qualitex Co. V. Jacobson Prods. Co. (514 U.S. 159, 161, 163, 115 S. Ct. 1300, 131 L.Ed. 2d 248 (1995)), which noted that a color can sometimes serve as a trademark by itself  “when that color has attained ‘secondary meaning’ and therefore identifies and distinguishes a particular brand (and thus indicates its ‘source’).”   The Court went on to provide that...
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I have a great idea for a tee-shirt!!!

Tee-Shirt Trademarks I have a great idea for a tee-shirt - can I register it as a trademark??? Short answer - probably not.  The main issue with whether a slogan or word  operates as trademark is how it is used.   This is especially true of tee-shirts. If the mark / slogan is just printed on a shirt – no protection – the Trademark Office deems that as being “merely ornamental” (there is an exception when the mark is also used for other products or business name).  However if the mark / slogan is also used to identify the tee-shirt company, it may serve as a trademark and be registered (i.e. it is a “source identifier”) – the only caveat is that you would need to show it being used in that manner rather than just emblazoned on the front.  Showing the mark this way can be done be showing the phrase on things like the name of an online store, packaging, an inside-tag,...
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