Contracts, Trademarks, and Bears, Oh My!: The National Park Service Fights its Contractor over Intellectual Property.

yosemiteBy Robin Hammond

A subsidiary of the food service and hospitality company Delaware North (“DNCY”), recently lost a 15-year contract to run Yosemite National Park’s hotels, restaurants, and outdoor activities. The contract was worth approximately $2 billion. This change has prompted several lawsuits, petitions to the federal trademark board, a bid protest with the federal Government Accountability Office, and a bill in the California State Legislature. The trademark dispute provides an interesting discussion of intellectual property rights, contract interpretation, and public policy. Continue reading

Animal-Style v. Cali-Style: The Better Burger Battle

Caliburger-Seattle-03-1024x683By Kelsey O’Neal

Everyone who has been to Southern California has probably seen a bright yellow arrow pointing to the promise of the ultimate meal: a double-double, animal style fries, and a Neapolitan shake. Where does the arrow point? In-N-Out Burger. The company typically stayed within a certain radius of its original store in Baldwin Park, CA, and it wasn’t until 2011 that it opened a restaurant in Texas. In-N-Out has been notoriously slow to expand. So, it must have been a shock for the residents of Shanghai to see animal style burgers in the Jing An Temple District in 2011. However the force behind the new store was not In-N-Out, but rather Caliburger, LLC, a Diamond Bar, CA-based company that trademarked In-N-Out’s menu items in Asia and Eastern Europe. In-N-Out wasted no time; it sued Caliburger in Santa Ana, California. The two companies settled, and the settlement was likely contingent on Caliburger’s willingness to change its menu. (For example, a “double-double” is now a “Cali-double,” and “animal style fries” became “wild fries,” which then morphed into “Cali-style fries.”) Continue reading

Let’s Play Trademarks: The Peculiar Sensation of Sony and the Fine Brothers

gamerBy Gwen Wei

As it turns out, it’s a terrible idea to try to lock down the Internet’s favorite toys via trademark. Who knew?

Certainly the news seems to have come as a shock to a few businesses in the new year. On October 28, 2015, Sony Computer Entertainment America applied to trademark the phrase ‘Let’s Play’. According to its application, Sony intended the trademark for goods regarding “electronic transmission and streaming of video games via global and local computer networks; streaming of audio, visual, and audiovisual material via global and local computer networks”. Continue reading

Bluebook and Baby Blue: Copyright Conundrums and Trademark Troubles

bluebookBy Kiran Jassal

Law students across the United States are familiar with “The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation,” prepared by the Harvard Law Review Association. Recently, the manual’s copyright and trademark protections have come into question. More specifically, the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at New York University joined Public Resource to publish “Baby Blue,” a public domain version of The Bluebook. Publishers of Bluebook vehemently defend their work, claiming copyright and trademark infringement. Professor Christopher Sprigman, of NYU Law, explained Baby Blue’s open access objective in an interview with the NYU Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law. To show support for the project, Yale Law students have started a petition, stating Baby Blue “will ensure that no one…is denied access to these rules of legal citation”. The question remains, however, whether Baby Blue infringes on any of Bluebook’s publisher’s intellectual property rights. Continue reading

Kobe Bryant Trademarks Phrase to Prepare for the Next Chapter

kobeBy Yayi Ding

It’s official – Kobe Bryant has trademarked the phrase: “Friends Hang Sometimes Banners Hang Forever.”

The motto originated from a 2015 interview with Kobe, when a reporter asked him about “not being a great friend all the time.” His response captured the relentless drive that has defined him as a basketball player: “Friends can come and go, but banners hang forever.” As Kobe’s NBA career comes to a close, his legal efforts offer more insight into his business acumen and his post-retirement preparations. Continue reading