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Geekview: Cheeky Coverage of Recent Intellectual Property News

LawyerFinder lawsuit ludicrousness.

Do you wonder if the owners James and Laurie Williams found their trademark counsel through their website? The Williams have been operating their website since at least as early as May 31, 1996, according to their most recent trademark application, which was refused based on registration of the same mark to the Columbus Bar Association, which claims to have used the mark since at least as early as September 20, 2010. Although Columbus conquered the   USPTO, the U.S. recognizes common law (use-based) trademark rights and the first to use (not the first to register) gets the bounty in this land. So the Williams sued the Columbus Bar seeking infringing profits, attorneys’ fees and costs and punitive damages, along with cancellation of the Bar’s service mark registrations. To win, the Williams must prove not only that they were first to use, but more importantly that LawyerFinder functions as a brand. If they can do that, then Columbus will have to retreat, but probably not before ponying up some dough, though less dough than Hostess will command . . .

Hostess horror soon shall end & fat filled fluffiness will come again.

Hostess claims unions held it hostage, while HuffPost insinuates that’s hogwash (here). Either way, Hostess Brands, Inc. is no more and Ho Hos are on hold. For Now.  Fortunately, a well-heeled bimbo appears to be coming to the rescue and Hostess’s fluff soon will froth again. Grupo Bimbo is the most likely purchaser of some of the iconic Hostess brands (Twinkie, anyone?). Of the 272 U.S. trademark registrations and applications in Hostess’s name, 247 remain LIVE, which is pretty impressive since most companies file far more applications than they end up maintaining. Of the LIVE Hostess USPTO records, 7 are pending applications and the other 240 are registered marks. The HOSTESS brand itself initially was registered in 1919 for bread, biscuits & cakes. Bread & biscuits have since been removed from this registration. Hostess products have been removed from our grocery shelves. And Apple’s false advertising claims have been removed from its case against Amazon . . .

Amazon takes a bite out of Apple’s crazy case.

App store absurdity continues as Amazon avenges itself against Apple. Behemoths battling it out while hanging in the balance lies the app store. Or is it the App Store? That depends, of course. Is an app store the thing itself? Or is App Store a brand? And if App Store is a brand, then WTF does anyone but Apple call the thing itself? Simply put, if an app store is a thing — a store where mobile apps are sold — Amazon wins. If App Store is a brand, Apple wins. For now, Amazon is winning. Apple filed suit for trademark infringement & dilution, as well as false advertising and unfair competition back in 2011. Earlier this month the court sided with Amazon, tossing out Apple’s false advertising claim because Apple failed to identify a single false statement (express or implied) that Amazon made about its app store which actually deceived people. Dumped Ding Dongs and aggressive Apples have nothin’ on mean peanut butter . . .


Are Skippy & SPAM destined to become a sweet & salty treat? Hormel might be betting on it. Buzz of its Hormel’s $700mm acquisition of Skippy brand peanut butter recently coated the pages of the internet. Though SPAM is by far its most famous brand, Hormel actually owns 30+ packaged food brands and countless sub-brands (not to mention 339 LIVE USPTO trademark records). Apparently, despite SPAM’s iconic nature, Skippy has made greater inroads into the Chinese market (go figure!) and Hormel’s acquisition strategically targets the company’s growth in that region. As I recently learned from my friend Athol Foden at Brighter Naming, the Skippy brand has a sullied history with Percy Crosby’s cartoon character Skippy, as detailed on Regardless of its past, Skippy is likely to stick around under the Hormel family of brands.

For those of us with IP at heart, 2013 is off to a delicious start.

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