Year in Review: Trademark Trends, Filings & Cases of 2021

The impacts of the pandemic have been much-achieving and emblems have not been immune. Even with reporting an original dip in filings early this calendar year, the Planet Mental Property Organization discovered in November that that the onset and continued influence of the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped organizations – which includes those in the manner, sportswear, and luxurious industries – from providing up new products and services, and trying to find out corresponding trademark registrations alongside the way. Growth in the variety of filings amid the pandemic “shows how enterprises across the globe have brought new merchandise and providers to the current market,” WIPO Director General Daren Tang mentioned final thirty day period, noting that “enterprises are locating prospects to achieve shoppers in new strategies and open up new markets.”

In addition to an array of exciting new trademark filings that ended up lodged around the system of the past 12 months and the bigger business developments that quite a few of them replicate, 2021 was also loaded with noteworthy developments in trademark-certain lawsuits and trademark business office proceedings both equally in the U.S. and internationally that are worth reflecting on. We choose a quick glance at six of these trademark filings, traits, and proceedings in Element 1 of this two-portion collection … 

1. Nike is Eyeing the Metaverse with New Trademark Filings

Nike garnered common awareness in November when it filed a selection of intent-to-use trademark applications for its most renowned emblems – these kinds of as its “Nike,” “Just Do It,” and “Jordan” word marks, its legendary swoosh emblem, the Jordan silhouette logo, and a stylized blend of its name and the swoosh – for use on various digital items/providers. While the Beaverton, Oregon-based titan is an early-mover both equally in terms of its entrance into the metaverse (it very first partnered with Roblox back again in 2019 and with online video match-makers in advance of that) and in terms of its trademark filings, Nike’s Swoosh is not the only trademark that is heading to populate the escalating metaverse.

Fashion trademarks

Models ranging from sportswear giants to luxury items purveyors like Balenciaga and Gucci are actively tests how they can use the metaverse (i.e., a place that combines immersive virtual reality, significant multi-player online gaming platforms, and many other sides of the net) to link with buyers and crank out more earnings. At the identical time, a swiftly-developing range of brands – from Allbirds, Abercrombie, and Alice + Olivia to Converse and Clinique – have also begun filing trademark programs for registration of their own for “downloadable digital goods” “retail keep providers that includes digital goods” and “entertainment services, particularly, giving on-line, non-downloadable digital footwear, apparel, headwear, eyewear, [and] bags,” amongst other points, “for use in virtual environments.”

2. Bottega Veneta Green May possibly Be the Brand’s Biggest New Asset

Above the past few of many years, as previous Bottega Veneta inventive director Daniel Lee began sending his warm-promoting garments and equipment down the runway, buyers and the media, alike, began referring to a certain property hue as “Bottega Veneta Green” or only, “Bottega Eco-friendly.” The Kering-owned trend brand has not manufactured any moves (to my awareness) to publicly assert or enforce legal rights in the inexperienced for use on attire and/or components, but the probable for “Bottega Green” to provide as an sign of source when made use of on specified attire and/or accessories is hanging specified the charge at which individuals have occur to hook up – and title-check out – the model in relationship with the color.

Fashion trademarks

Bottega Eco-friendly would, of system, not be the to start with time that a manufacturer has been able to display that buyers url a distinct use of a unique color to a one supply. Most commonly, this sees makes amassing (and enforcing) rights in the use of a particular shade for their packaging. Hermès’ orange will come to brain, as does Tiffany & Co. blue, Glossier’s pink, and Cartier’s red. Seemingly less frequent (but unquestionably not unheard of) is the existence of trademark legal rights in a colour for use on products, themselves. The most famous trend field instance is, of program, Louboutin’s legal rights in “Chinese red” for use on the soles of contrasting coloration footwear. 

3. A Handful of New Trademark Apps Drop Light-weight on Chanel’s Options

More than the earlier calendar year or so, Chanel has been filing a handful of exciting trademark apps for registration in the U.S. (and beyond). In November 2020, for occasion, it submitted to register “Chanel & Moi.” A thirty day period afterwards, it submitted new purposes for registration for its well known term mark and double “C” symbol, and then in March of this year, it lodged an software for “Ready to Care.” Nonetheless still, this summer time, it filed an software for “La Sirene.” It is not automatically the marks, them selves, that are particularly noteworthy in these situations, in particular offered that Chanel by now enjoys sturdy legal rights in its identify and symbol throughout an array of classes of goods and solutions. Alternatively, it is the new course of expert services in which Chanel intends to use these marks that is intriguing: “Cleaning and maintenance of vogue and style accessories.” 

The providers becoming supplied up by Chanel, which has preserved a “Fashion Soon after Sales” plan for a long time, are not the 1st of their type. In actuality, they are between the latest developments in a string of new initiatives by luxury makes to faucet into the increasing interest among – and requires from – people when it comes to sustainability and circularity in manner, notably in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

4. Yeezy, Gap Facial area Pushback More than Their Trademark Applications 

In advance of the debut of their seriously-hyped Yeezy Gap selection, Kanye West’s brand and the American mall giant mashed up with their logos to generate a new, collab-particular emblem that is made up of  “the letters YZY in white within of a [navy] blue square with rounded edges.” They rolled out the new branding in April and independently submitted trademark applications for registration for it for use on clothes and bags, as very well as “retail and on-line retail outlet companies in the discipline of garments, footwear, headwear, add-ons, [and] luggage.”

In the wake of acquiring Business office Steps this month, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Place of work (“USPTO”) pointing to a pre-existing YZY registration (held by West’s company) and a pending software for a stylized YZY mark from a third-occasion, we pondered the functionality of resource-identification in mild of the enduring increase of closely-hyped collaborations and the co-branded wares that have appear about as a final result. 

Fashion trademarks

2021 designed it cleat that a rising selection of brands are willing to commingle essential supply indicating elements of their have with these of a different model (feel: Coach and Champion, Yeezy Hole, Fendace, Balenciaga and Gucci, Tiffany & Co. and Patek, and many others.) in buy to minimize by means of the noise of the crowded marketplace and travel demand from customers at the outset – and thereafter, in the secondary market place – between arguably collab-fatigued individuals. The joint submitting/ownership technique to these new assets by the likes of Hole and Yeezy, as nicely as Gucci and Balenciaga, and presumably Versace and Fendi, way too, is intriguing largely simply because joint ownership has been argued to “compromise the trademark’s fundamental source-figuring out mother nature.” 

It will be fascinating to see in 2022 if providers like Yeezy and Hole, for instance – as distinctive from Gucci and Balenciaga, which share a guardian enterprise (and consequently, would probably be considered favorably beneath the tenets of the Wella A.G. case) – will deal with additional concerns down the highway specified that they are, in truth, two different entities, and therefore, two individual sources even if the collaborative wears arguably come from a new, solitary supply.

5. Puma Withdraws its Opposition in U.S. Fight More than Nike’s “Footware” Mark

Puma and Nike seem to have fixed their stateside fight more than “footware” this calendar year, with Puma withdrawing the opposition it experienced been waging versus the Nike trademark in July. In the wake of sending a “letter of protest” to the USPTO arguing that that “footware” is a “descriptive” term, and as a result, ineligible for registration, Puma initiated an opposition continuing in June 2020. In its notice of opposition, the German sportswear company claimed that Nike’s likely registration for “footware” really should be blocked on the foundation that it is a “merely descriptive” expression for technological innovation-driven footwear models. Specifically, Puma argued that Nike’s “footware” mark “is phonetically equal to and a misspelling of the phrase ‘footwear,’” earning it “a generic phrase for merchandise sold in commerce, particularly, footwear,” and not an indicator of a individual supply of goods/assistance, which is exactly the reason of a trademark. 

Curiously, even though Nike does not list footwear as a class of items in its software, it is does declare legal rights in classes 9, these as “computer hardware modules for acquiring, processing, and transmitting knowledge in Net of points electronic devices” 38, together with, “telecommunications services, namely, transmission of details by means of telecommunications networks, wireless communications networks and the Internet” and 42, specifically, “application provider service provider featuring software programming interface software for integration of third-celebration purposes to let an interactive user encounter.”

Nike’s “footware” application is however pending just before the USPTO. 

6. Virgil Abloh’s Method to Trademarks

No 12 months-end assessment of emblems would be complete without the need of a nod to those put forth by the late Off-White founder Virgil Abloh. In addition to introducing a selection of new marks this yr, which include Paper Work, Off-White doubled-down on its quest for registration for 3 especially attention-grabbing marks – its crimson zip tie and unique uses of quotation marks – through 2021. On the quotations front, Off-White has been on the lookout to sign up “Product Bag” for use on “tops as outfits bottoms as clothing,” and “For Walking” for use on footwear since 2020, garnering numerous rounds of pushback from the USPTO on a number of grounds, together with descriptiveness and failure to purpose. 

Between other factors, counsel for Off-White has argued that the For Walking” mark, for instance, is “elevated past currently being descriptive [of the goods upon which it appears] owing to the distinctive professional impression created by [Off-White’s] unique use of quotation marks,” which Off-White has claimed is different from “mere use of the word or phrase without the need of the quotation marks,” the trademark place of work has issued a remaining workplace motion, refusing to register the quotation flanked trademark. 

Fashion trademarks

As for the crimson zip tie mark, the software for which has been amended to a lot more narrowly explain the mark as which include the precise situation of the zip tie on footwear, Off-White has responded to USPTO rejections by arguing that the “unique and unusual” zip tie creates “the commercial impact of a trademark” and “serves as a potent source identifier.” Having issue with the USPTO examiner’s assert that “if buyers are purchasing a merchandise since of the existence of [Off-White’s] mark [on that product], that makes it a decorative characteristic,” Off-White has likened the zip tie to the logo-centric products and solutions of luxury items manufacturers, gross sales of which are pushed, in significant aspect, by the presence of the logos. 

The zip tie “is no diverse,” the brand’s counsel has claimed, than “any other trademark that seems affixed to trend products,” which generally appeal to customers to the product while also figuring out the resource of it. This is specially legitimate for significant-end vogue solutions “for which the communication to other individuals that the merchandise is generated by a selected resource is substantially of the attraction of buying, owning, and wearing the products in the initial area,” they assert. 

As for the standing of the applications, the zip tie mark was released for opposition this month the USPTO issued its most recent Place of work Action for the “For Walking” mark in August and on December 15, the trademark human body issued a recognize of allowance to Off-White for the “Product Bag” mark.