Monday, February 6, 2017

Outback Steakhouse Files Trademark Application for The Bloomin' Onion Man Costume

If you love Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion (which is a registered trademark itself, filed in 1989), you'll love this recent trademark application.

On January 31st, Outback Steakhouse of Florida, LLC filed a federal trademark application for the mark below, described as "a three-dimensional configuration of a costumed mascot character with human arms and legs and the body of fried onions on a plate wearing a hat in the form of a dipping sauce saucer. The wording 'Outback Steakhouse' appears thereon." In other words, the application does not cover words or a logo, but rather the costume itself (trademarks are not limited to words or logos).
Outback filed the application in Class 41 for "[e]ntertainment services in the nature of live appearances by a costumed mascot at college sporting events, promotions, charity events, special events and other performances."  According the application, Outback has been using this costume in commerce at least as early as September 21, 2013.
Earlier in January, Outback filed a different application for BLOOMIN' ONION MAN in standard characters (i.e., the words only) covering the same services in Class 41.

According to my quick search, Outback Steakhouse of Florida, LLC owns 92 live trademark applications or registrations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Friday, February 3, 2017

#SaltBae Files Trademark Application for SALTBAE Salt Sprinkling Design

Have you heard of #SaltBae? If not, here is everything you need to know. Even Leonardo DiCaprio was awed by #SaltBae in action recently. Memes of the Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe fantastically sprinkling salt on meat went viral in early January.

Now it appears Nusret Gökçe (or more appropriately, a related business entity) has filed a federal trademark application related to the popular meme. On January 30th, a Turkish-based entity by the name of D ET VE ET ÜRÜNLERI GIDA PAZARLAMA TICARET ANONIM SIRKETI filed a federal trademark application for the design seen below.

Yep, that's #SaltBae alright.

The Turkish entity filed the application in Class 25 for a variety of clothing items, including trousers, jackets, coats, T-shirts, shorts, and caps [ed. - but no vests?]. The application was also filed in Class 43 for services related to food, drink, and hotels, including restaurants, cafes, pubs, motels, boarding houses, day care centers, and pet and animal boarding services [ed. - what?].

How do we know this trademark application is associated with the real #SaltBae (aka Nusret Gökçe )? For one, this Turkish business directory seems to indicate that the business entity listed as the owner of this mark is associated with the restaurant #SaltBae co-owns, the Nusr-Et Steakhouse (and it links to Nusr-Et's website).

But perhaps most telling is that the business entity listed in this application also owns three other federal trademark registrations for stylized versions of NUSR·ET RESTAURANT, NUSR·ET STEAK HOUSE, and NUSR·ET, each filed in 2014 by the same attorney that filed the SALTBAE application. Pretty compelling evidence.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

11 Trademark Applications for ALTERNATIVE FACTS Filed In One Week

On January 22nd, President Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway famously (or infamously) used the phrase "alternative facts" on NBC's Meet The Press to describe the crowds at the presidential inauguration. That same day, the first trademark application for ALTERNATIVE FACTS was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Over the next week, ten more applications would follow (as of today's date, only applications filed up to January 29th are visible in the USPTO's database).
The good sand services covered by the 11 applications are all across the board.  Some of those goods and services are:
As is often the case when a catchy phrase hits the news, multiple enterprising individuals hoping to capitalize on the term file federal trademark applications. Filing the applications, however, is only the beginning of the trademark registration process. Most of these applications, as with most applications for similar catchphrases, will probably not actually mature into a federal trademark registration.

For example, most of the 11 applications above were filed on an intent to use basis, which allows an applicant to file a trademark application before actually using it in commerce (which is typically required to establish rights in a mark), so long as the applicant has a bona fide intention to use the trademark in commerce in the near future. See TMEP 1101; 15 USC 1051(b). Before an intent to use application can register, the applicant is required to submit sufficient evidence to the USPTO showing they are actually using the trademark in commerce. TMEP 1103.

For the applicants of the ALTERNATIVE FACTS applications, this means they will need to actually sell the goods or provide the services listed in the respective applications and submit sufficient proof of the same to the USPTO before the USPTO will grant them a registration. Assuming, that is, that there are no other deficiencies in the applications that might prevent registration (i.e., inadequate description of the goods/services, deficient specimen, incorrect classification of goods/services, etc.). If an applicant does not meet all the requirements for registration, the application will be abandoned and the non-refundable filing fees are lost.

In sum, while it may be relatively easy to actually file a trademark application, that is only the beginning of a rather complicated legal process, and such a filing by no means guarantees a registration.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

50 Cent Files Trademark Applications Related to TV Show

Curtis J. Jackson III, aka 50 Cent, filed two federal trademark applications on January 26th for the name of his 2003 rap album - GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN
These applications, however, are not related to music.  Instead, the artist filed one application in Class 41 for "Entertainment services in the nature of continuing program series, featuring live action, comedy and drama provided through cable television, broadcast television, internet, video-on-demand, and through other forms of transmission media; providing online information in the field of entertainment concerning television programs."

50 Cent filed another application for GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN covering various clothing items [ed. - merchandise related to the show?].

Both applications were filed on an intent to use basis, suggesting that 50 Cent is not using these marks in conjunction with the listed goods and services yet, but has a bona fide intention to do so in the near future.

Are these applications related to a new 50 Cent TV show called GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN? We may find out soon.

Friday, January 27, 2017

California Company Files Trademark Application Related To High Speed Transport in Tubes

Hyperloop technology is on its way, if a recent trademark application is any indication. On January 23rd, a company in California called Hyperloop Technologies, Inc. filed a federal trademark application for the logo seen below.

The interesting aspect of this application, however, is the identification of the services. Those services fall in Class 39 and read as follows: "[t]ransportation services, namely, high-speed transportation of passengers and goods in tubes; Consulting and advisory services in the field of transportation; Providing a website featuring information in the field of transportation; Providing information in the field of transportation[.]"

According to Hyperloop Technologies' website, "Hyperloop is a new way to move people and things at airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket."  The website also claims that a trip from Melbourne, Australia to Sydney in the loop would take approximately 55 minutes (an almost 11 hour trip in the car).

Interestingly, this is not the first trademark application filed by Hyperloop Technologies, Inc. Twenty two trademark applications are on record with the USPTO and 20 of those are still active (although none have registered).  Some of the other applications are for HYPERLOOP ONE, LOOPER, INFINITYLOOP, and HYPERLOOP IS REAL.

Hyperloop Technologies filed most of the applications related to the transportation of passengers in high speed tubes on an intent to use basis, which means they are required to start providing those transpiration services before these applications can mature into a federal trademark registration. TMEP 1109.03; 37 CFR 2.88(a)(2).  Hyperloop technology might not be as far off as it seems.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ohio State Files Trademark Application for Black, White, and Red Stripe

Ohio State University added another application to its ever expanding federal trademark portfolio on January 19th.  On that date, the university filed a federal trademark application for the stripe seen below. The mark is described as "a stripe design containing distinct bands of the colors black, white, and red."
The application covers a variety of clothing items in Class 25, replica and collector football helmets in Class 28, and entertainment services related to sporting events, courses in sports and fitness instruction, and a website relating to sports in Class 41.
The university filed the application on an in-use basis, with dates of first use in commerce ranging from 1966 (sporting events) to 1993 (football helmets).

This is not the first time the Ohio State University filed trademark applications related to the school's colors.  In February 2016, I blogged about a trademark application for a jersey design the school filed and how it had claimed acquired distinctiveness in designs in the past to successfully register them as trademarks.

The particular application for the jersey I blogged about last year has since been abandoned, however. In that case, the Trademark Office issued an Office action in which it refused registration because "the applied-for color mark, consisting of one or more colors used on some or all of the surfaces of a product or product packaging, is not inherently descriptive" and thus not entitled to registration without a showing of acquired distinctiveness. OSU did not respond (it did, however, file another application for a similar jersey in March 2016, which did register after successfully showing acquired distinctiveness). It is possible OSU may face a similar Office action for the stripe above. We will find out in approximately three months when it is assigned to an Examining Attorney.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Viacom Files Trademark Applications for HAMSTER HOTEL and Six Other Potential TV Shows

Viacom, Inc. had a busy day at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on January 18th.  On that date, the entertainment company and owner of the MTV, VH-1, BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon brands (among others), filed federal trademark applications for what may be several new TV shows.
The marks filed for the potential new shows are:
Viacom filed each of the above applications on an intent to use basis, suggesting these marks aren't actually being used by the company in commerce yet but there is some sort of plan to use each mark in the near future.  Some of the applications also covered a variety of merchandise related to the shows, such as clothing and toys.

It's anyone's guess which channels the above shows might appear (if they appear at all, and except for MTV VIDIOTS, of course) but if these trademark applications are any indication, some or all of Viacom's channels may be getting new shows sometime soon.