Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chinese Apple Counterfeits Stores Popping Up

Local officials from Kunming, the capitol city of the province of Yunnan, China, have begun to crack down on the much-publicized “fake” apple stores that came to light last week. Two of the five stores have been shut down by the local industry and commerce administration. According to China Daily’s U.S. edition, the remaining 3 stores are awaiting a response from Apple as to whether or not they may continue operating.  Apparently, so far the products sold in the store have not been alleged to be counterfeit products.  But the store itself is unauthorized, thus selling gray marketing goods.

This is interesting news since foreign businesses have been skeptical about China’s responsibility to intellectual property. Patent trolls, knockoff brands, and gray markets have hurt China’s IP reputation. But this response from the local government could be a sign things are headed in the right direction. Granted, the news comes from China Daily, and Chinese news sources aren’t known for objective reporting. But the fact that certain of the stores have been closed down means that China didn’t simply turn a blind eye to the situation, as it has done in the past. Perhaps this was due to the extensive news coverage of the fake Apple stores, whose own employees didn’t even know they weren’t working for Apple.

However, it also appears that the reason the two stores were closed was the lack of a proper business license, not because of their intellectual property infringements. The remaining three stores (that have a business license) are awaiting a response from Apple.
Currently Apple only has four authorized stores, in Beijing and Shanghai. Maybe Apple should be expanding its Chinese market more quickly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lamborghini Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

The Italian car maker Lamborghini wasted little time in filing a lawsuit (US District Court, State of Nevada, Case No. 2:11-cv-01154-ECR –RJJ) against the Palazzo resort in Las Vegas. The Palazzo recently opened an exotic car showroom, an Italian restaurant, and a merchandise gallery called Dal Toro. The Dal Toro logo bears an all-too-similar resemblance to Lamborghini’s classic raging bull logo. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the suit claims that the logos are “studied imitations of the Lamborghini trademarks.”

The owner of these businesses, Lorenzo Barracco, seemed unconcerned with the trademark infringement suit, and called it frivolous. But the fact that the logo represents businesses that are upscale and clearly Italian car-themed doesn’t help. Given that the logo’s color scheme, overall design and Italian name are all similar to Lamborghini, the coincidence is a little far-fetched.

The suit continues:
“Defendants’ advertisement, promotion and sale of the knockoff products is part

of a sophisticated and elaborate scheme to target Lamborghini, to create products that are similar in appearance to well-known Lamborghini products, and to trade upon the goodwill and reputation associated with Lamborghini and its high quality, distinctive product lines, including by deliberately misleading the public and the trade as to the authenticity, source, affiliation or sponsorship of defendants’ operations and products.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sprinkles Cupcakes Wages Trademark Lawsuit

Sprinkles Cupcakes gained huge popularity due to its delicious cupcakes and also to a helping hand from the PR gained from getting on the Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart show. The company which has locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago, New York and throughout the country, is taking aim at a newer store which opened in 2009, called Pink Sprinkles . Sprinkles Cupcake, owned by Candace Nelson, a celebrity judg

e on the reality television show Cupcake Wars, has filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement and under the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (regarding the domain name it uses) in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, all in connection with its federal registration for SPRINKLES CUPCAKE U.S. Reg. No. 3,250,609.

The case is a fairly straight forward trademark infringement claim. Will Pink Sprinkles claim that their addition of the word "Pink" is different enough to avoid infringement, or possibly do they have some other defense? Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

DJ Pauly D Trademark Infringement

Several of MTV’s ‘The Jersey Shore’ stars have been applying for trademarks to be used in product lines of different varieties. The use of celebrity trademarks has been an increasingly-popular way to try and capitalize on minor-league fame. But apparently, Jersey Shore star DJ Pauly D will have a harder time than most. Unfortunately for him, there is already a “DJ Paulie D” who has had a registered trademark with the USPTO since 2008. The reality show star has applied for a trademark 3 times, and been rejected for likelihood of confusion.

To make matters worse for the MTV star, the original DJ Paulie D has filed a lawsuit against him. The suit (Paul Lis DJ Paulie Broadcasting LLC v. Paul DelVecchio Jr., 3:11-cv-01057-AWT, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut) claims trademark infringement, since, as Techdirt.com points out, any recent Google search will indicate that DJ Paulie D is a misspelling for the far-more popular DJ Pauly D of Jersey Shore. The original DJ Paulie D is asking for $4 million in damages. And it seems somewhat likely he’ll get some awards for damages, since he’s claiming MTV used metatags to intentionally redirect traffic away from him. Regardless of whether he gets any money from Viacom (MTV’s owner), he has already created a ton of publicity for himself.