Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Top Trademark Attorney 2010: Cohen IP Law Group, PC

Once again, the Cohen IP Law Group, PC has ranked among the top trademark firms in the nation in the recent May 2010 issue of IP Today Magazine.

Intellectual Property Today Magazine is a promenient monthly publication focused on legal issues in patent, trademark and copyright law.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tommy Burger Trademark Infringement Family Affair

Trademarks are valuable property. Business partners, friends, and even family members can be split over trademark rights. Take the case of Original Tommy’s World Famous Hamburgers here in L.A. When the original Tommy Koulax died in 1992, he left the franchise in the hands of some of his children and relatives. According to an article in today’s Los Angeles Business Journal, one of his children is trying to start up a Tommy’s-inspired company, and apparently breaking some family ties doing it.

What made Tommy’s world famous was arguably its chili, not hamburgers. In fact, Tommy’s chili recipe is protected by a trade secret. In 2008, Tommy’s son, Tommy Koulax Jr., started an online business selling chili. “Tommy’s Original Chili Factory” received a cease and desist letter from Original Tommy’s (jointly owned by other siblings and relatives). Since then, the name has been changed to “Tommy Jr’s Chili Factory,” but the Tommy Jr. crew is still under attack. They have been sued in California Central District Court for trademark infringement and unfair competition, Tomdan Enterprises, Inc. v. Tommy’s Original Chili Factory, Inc. et al., CV 09-3960 JSL (C.D. Cal. 2009).

It may be a tough case for Tommy Jr. to win. His logo is very similar in style and color to the Original Tommy’s logo, and on his products he claims to be the “son of the originator and founder of Tommy’s World Famous Hamburgers.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jessica Seinfeld Copyright Infringement Battle Over Cookbook

Last week, a federal appeals court upheld the previous decision of a lower court in the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook case. Jessica (Jerry Seinfeld’s wife) was sued for both trademark and copyright infringement by Missy Chase Lapine, author of “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals.” Jessica’s book is titled “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.” See the original lower district's complaint here. It does seem a bit close for comfort, but two judges have now ruled that Jessica’s book is not a copycat.

According to Judges Reena Raggi and Peter W. Hall of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, “stockpiling vegetable purees for covert use in children’s food is an idea that cannot be copyrighted.” Conceptual ideas like that cannot be protected by copyright law. Seinfeld's intellectual property attorney's stated "countless prior works utilized this very same unprotectable idea," including a 1971 book."

Lapine’s book was published four months previous to Seinfeld’s, and apparently, some publishers were looking at the books around the same time. It seems pretty unlikely that Jessica Seinfeld would have had enough time to plagiarize, since both books were published around the same time.

On a side note – a slander case is still pending for Jerry Seinfeld’s jokes (when he said his wife is accused of "vegetable plagiarism") about the suit and Missy Lapine on The Tonight Show.