First Amendment Beats Trademark Rights Three Times in One Day

Trademarks protect against consumer confusion. But the First Amendment protects speech even when it may result in some confusion. When these two principles intersect, trademark holders may be surprised to find that the First Amendment often wins. In three March 31 decisions, courts sided with First Amendment freedom of expression over commercial claims alleging violation of trademark and publicity rights.

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Thinking about Using Trademarks to Capitalize on the COVID-19 Pandemic? Think Again.

Over the past few weeks, many entrepreneurially-minded people have filed trademark registration applications with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in apparent attempts to cash in on the current global health crisis. Example marks from this influx of applications include: I HEART COVID-19, COVID-19 INFECTED, #CORONAVIRUS, WARNING MY RIDE IS SICKER THAN THE CORONAVIRUS, and CORONAVIRUS: MADE IN CHINA. The goods and services identified for these marks range widely from t-shirts and other apparel to magazines, music recordings, educational materials, pharmaceutical compositions, and even tax planning services. While some of these filings may be tied to a sincere business intent, many have been criticized as being distasteful and perhaps even a waste of time and government resources. Continue Reading

USPTO and Copyright Office Announce Extensions to Deadlines Under the CARES Act

As an update to our earlier post regarding deadlines and operation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) during the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the USPTO under the authority of the CARES Act announced extensions to the time allowed to file certain patent and trademark-related documents and to pay certain required fees. While the USPTO continues to operate as normal with respect to e-filing and examination of applications, it recognizes that this national emergency has disrupted the normal operation of businesses and individuals. Essentially, the notice provides that most USPTO prosecution deadlines falling between March 27 to April 30 are eligible for a 30-day extension if filed with a statement that the delay “is due to the COVID-19 outbreak” and a party or attorney involved “was personally affected.” Detailed lists of filings for which relief is provided are in the notices for patent and trademark filings. Continue Reading

How Patent Offices Outside the United States Are Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

It has been more than two weeks since the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a formal response to the COVID-19 pandemic announcing that certain petition fees could be waived for patent applicants who are personally impacted by the novel coronavirus. We previously discussed this on our blog. Since then, patent offices around the world have begun enacting various exceptions and special allowances in view of the evolving global health crisis.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) recently announced that any deadlines for patent, industrial design, and trademark matters that fall between March 16 and April 30, 2020 are automatically extended to May 1st, 2020, which date may be further extended. Online services remain available but several regional offices are no longer receiving CIPO correspondence until further notice. Continue Reading

Companies Must Evaluate and Respond to Data Security and Privacy Issues Raised by COVID-19

Remote work is a mandate for many companies during the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic. With so many employees working from home, companies face increasing privacy and data security challenges as they conduct business remotely while attempting to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access and use.

Organizations must ensure that they are implementing the proper security and privacy measures necessary for secure remote work. Below is guidance on the most pressing data security and privacy issues: Continue Reading

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