Gehrke & Associates, SC is pleased to announce the launch of Creative Protection, an informational blog that covers copyright and trademark law. The blog also covers news and events of interest to authors, artists, publishers, programmers, musicians and others who may benefit from copyright or trademark protection.

Gehrke & Associates, SC also maintains a general IP law blog featuring selected downloadable resources at .

Famous trademarks don't necessarily cover every product, says Canadian Supreme Court

Famous trademarks don't necessarily cover every product, says Supreme Court

OTTAWA (CP) - Barbie may tower over the children's doll market but her global reach doesn't extend to the restaurant business, says the Supreme Court of Canada.

Globally recognized trademarks don't necessarily straddle all possible goods and services just because of their fame, the court ruled Friday.

Mattel Inc., the American toy giant that makes Barbie, and French champagne purveyor Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin each sought to stop small Quebec-based businesses from encroaching on their registered trademarks.

The arguments of both iconic companies were rejected by the top court Friday.

"Famous marks do not come in one size," Justice Ian Binnie wrote in one of two lengthy and unanimous judgments.

So while some, such as Walt Disney, "may indeed have largely transcended product line differences," the circumstances for each brand must be weighed on its merits.

Mattel's Barbie and Veuve Clicquot, while hardly Mickey Mouse outfits, simply don't match Disney's product reach, Binnie suggested.

"At this stage, (the Barbie trademark's) fame is not enough to bootstrap a broad zone of exclusivity covering 'most consumer wares and services'," the justice wrote.

The ruling upheld lower court judgments that found that Barbie's - a small Montreal restaurant chain - did not infringe on Mattel's trademark.

Similarly, a six-store chain of women's clothiers called Les Boutiques Cliquot in Quebec and eastern Ontario was found to have neither infringed on Veuve Clicquot's trademark nor diminished the value of the champagne maker's brand.

Spiro Christopoulos, owner of the three Barbie's restaurants, called the decision "so great, it's fantastic. It's been a 12-year battle with Mattel and finally it's over.

"At first I was a little intimidated," added Christopoulos, who was also awarded court costs with his victory.

"But then I realized that if I was going to protect our business and name and the people working here, I'd have to defend it. So I took the challenge and it paid off."

The rulings, at heart, state that Canadian consumers are bright enough to tell a doll from a delicatessen, and champagne from a chemise.

Full story.

Small companies learn they have to sniff out trademarks or land in court

Trademark search
Small companies learn they have to sniff out trademarks or land in court

Business First of Columbus - April 14, 2006by Kevin KemperBusiness

For more than seven years, Gary Rountree has been in business as a private investigator, and, until recently, his small Dublin-based company has been known as Intell North Investigations Inc.

But lawsuits have a way of changing things.

Brought to you by Cingular Intell North and Rountree were sued in January by Intel Corp., the world's best-known computer chip maker, for trademark infringement because Rountree's company name was too similar to Intel's.

Rountree settled the lawsuit March 15, is changing the company's name and will not talk about the details. He does say, however, that even though he believes he didn't do anything wrong, he had no choice.

"You can't win. You're not going to beat them," Rountree said. "A small guy like me can't afford it."

Intell North isn't the only Central Ohio company to tangle with Intel recently. Columbus-based Internet Transaction Solutions Inc. filed a lawsuit against Intel in U.S. District Court in Columbus in January after Intel sent ITS a letter that threatened litigation.

Intel's letter said ITS's marketing slogan, "ePayments Inside," is a rip-off of Intel's "Intel Inside" slogan, according to the ITS lawsuit. Intel filed a countersuit the same month in federal court in San Francisco that alleged ITS infringed on its "Inside" brand.

Full story.

'Even a moron in a hurry' knows which Apple is which

'Even a moron in a hurry' knows which Apple is which, lawyer says
By Matt Dunham, AP

LONDON (AP) — Lawyers for Apple Computer (APPL) on Thursday asserted the company's right to distribute music through its iTunes music store, rejecting claims by The Beatles' Apple Corps that doing so violated a 1991 trademark agreement.

Apple Computer lawyer Anthony Grabiner said the "distribution of digital entertainment content" was permitted under the agreement, in which the two companies promised not to tread on the other's sphere of business.

Full story.

Microsoft Vista May Face Trademark Trouble

Microsoft Vista May Face Trademark Trouble

The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 26, 2005; 9:06 PM

SEATTLE -- There's a line of sewing machines, an elevator monitoring system, even a brand of detergent used to clean dairy equipment _ all bearing the brand name Vista. There are plenty of computer products that claim the Vista trademark, too.

So Microsoft Corp.'s choice of Vista as the name for the next version of its Windows operating system has some intellectual property experts wondering if a company that has been fiercely protective of its own trademarks will get hauled into court.

"It seems like they were a little lax in their intellectual property due diligence _ maybe because they're so big, maybe because they're so powerful, maybe because they feel they can do anything they want," said James T. Berger, a Chicago-area marketing communications consultant who teaches at Northwestern and Roosevelt universities.

Full story.

USPTO looking to expand work at home option

USPTO weighs options for work at home

"PC Blade worth the cost of admission" [, Oct. 6, 2003]

BY Florence Olsen
Published on Jul. 11, 2005

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officials, who expect to hire about 900 new people as patent examiners this year, are analyzing their office space options, which include expanding the agency’s work-at-home program.

About 175, or 65 percent of USPTO's eligible trademark attorneys, work at home.

USPTO’s chief information officer has notified vendors of the agency’s interest in PC blade technology as agency officials weigh the security risks of expanding the work-at-home program. “Knowing about technology like this will help the decision-making process if we move forward on expanding the program,” said Brigid Quinn, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Full story.

Smith undertakes reforming U.S. patent, trademark laws

Smith undertakes reforming U.S. patent, trademark laws

WASHINGTON -- Texas Congressman Lamar Smith may have walked away from his dream of being a physicist, but as a politician he believes his passion for science and discovery can still help protect American inventions.

The Republican is working on what he says will be the first comprehensive overhaul of U.S. patent and trademark laws in half a century.

"Everybody recognizes the need for change in patent law. So much has changed in 50 years that we really need to modernize our laws," said Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts, the Internet and intellectual property.

It's hugely important for high-technology companies, many of them in Texas, who say changes are needed to stay globally competitive. Smith's proposals could also benefit garage inventors who dream of selling their gadgets on the Home Shopping Network.

He's supported by companies like International Business Machines Corp., but not everyone thinks patent laws need reforming.

A group representing the state's biotechnology industry believes some of Smith's proposed changes could hurt businesses that have invented pregnancy tests, cancer therapies, enzymes that clean up oil spills and a host of pharmaceuticals.

Smith's bill would make it harder for patent owners to win court injunctions to stop patent infringement. Under current law, a patent owner who has sued for patent infringement and prevails in trial can get a permanent injunction to stop production of the competing product.

Full story.

Pre-emptive Action

Pre-emptive Action

2 June 2005 14:54 hours

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) says its time intellectual property rights protection extended further into the Internet.

WIPO is recommending "a uniform intellectual property (IP) protection mechanism" to control illegal domain name registrations in any new generic Top-Level Domains, said a statement issued by WIPO on Wednesday.
The main generic Top-Level Domains are websites that end with .com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, .org, .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro.

But more generic Top-Level Domains are on the way.

Full story.