Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Netflix Studios Files Three Trademark Applications for Potential New Shows

As is often the case when potential new shows are in the works, Netflix Studios, LLC filed three applications to registered the titles of potential new shows as trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this month. The applications filed in April are:
According to the trademark applications, both Another Life and Black Moon will be "dramatic television series" whereas Turn Up Charlie will be an "ongoing comedic drama television series." Netflix Studios, LLC filed all these applications on an intent-to-use basis, suggesting it is not currently using these titles as trademarks in commerce yet but has a bona fide intention to do so in the near future (which makes sense given these shows aren't available for streaming yet). 15 USC 1051(b); TMEP 806.01(b).

In total, Netflix Studios, LLC has filed 11 federal trademark applications in 2018, including the three listed above. The other eight applications were for:
  • PRINCE OF PEORIA (filed January 30th for, in part, an "ongoing comedic drama television series")
  • CHAMBERS (filed January 9th for, in part, an "ongoing dramatic television series")
  • MR. IGLESIAS (filed March 27th for, in part, an "ongoing comedic drama television series")
  • THE FIX (filed February 28th for, in part, an "ongoing unscripted comedic drama television series")
  • THE INNOCENTS (filed February 14th for, in part, an "ongoing dramatic television series")
  • SUPER MONSTERS (filed February 9th, not for a television series but rather for a variety of merchandise, such as clothing, bags, a variety of toys, and video games)
  • EVERYTHING SUCKS! (filed February 7th, also not for a television series but a variety of merchandise)
  • THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES (filed February 6th for a "series of motion pictures" along with a variety of merchandise)
Why no applications for the name of a movie? Because the USPTO will not register the title, or a portion of a title, of a single creative work as a trademark unless it has been used on a series of creative works (think Harry Potter). TMEP 1202.08. Single creative works are generally works "in which the content does not change, whether that work is printed, recorded, or electronic form." TMEP 1202.08(a). Without getting too into the weeds legally, the refusal to register titles to single creative works essentially stems from the fact that the USPTO does not consider the title of a single creative work to identify the source of the work, and therefore it does not function as a trademark (trademarks, by definition, are source indicators). This refusal is sometimes the subject of debate and often differs from the treatment of titles to single creative works by the federal courts, which, in certain circumstances, do tend to protect such titles from confusingly similar uses under Section 43(a) of the Trademark Act, 15 USC 1125(a).

According to my quick search, Netflix Studios, LLC owns 76 active trademark applications or registrations with the USPTO, all of which appear to be related to shows on Netflix (like registrations for THE OA, MINDHUNTER, and STRANGER THINGS).

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