Recent High Profile Trademark Disputes Highlight Need to Protect Your Trademarks

A few recent high profile trademark disputes making the news have brought to light again the importance of protecting your business’ trademarks and other IP. Specifically, these stories highlight the need to register your trademarks and draft carefully negotiated terms in any licensing agreements your business enters into.

Tully’s May Lose Right to Use of “Tully’s”

Tully's Coffee

The Seattle Times reported that Keurig Green Mountain has sued Global Baristas, the Seattle investor group that bought Tully’s and saved it from bankruptcy, to prevent Tully’s from using the trademark “Tully’s” in its name. Keurig is arguing that Global Baristas has violated its licensing agreements by selling coffee from another local firm (Dillanos) without Keurig’s permission. Keurig claims that Tully’s owes Keurig $469,000.

In a statement last month, Michael Avenatti, the California lawyer who heads the investor group Global Baristas, said that Tully’s was allowed to use other suppliers “from time to time, which has been done by Tully’s for years.” According to the lawsuit, Avenatti may be wrong. Keurig claims that under the terms of its licensing agreement with Tully’s, Keurig’s consent is required to make deals with other suppliers.

Taylor Swift in Heated Trademark Battle Over Lucky 13

Taylor Swift suedTaylor Swift was recently sued by clothing manufacturer Lucky 13 over Swift’s distribution of clothing and merchandise that includes the trademark “LUCKY 13.” Lucky 13 (the clothing manufacturer) has been manufacturing and distributing clothing under this trademark since the early 1990’s. Lucky 13 has also registered its trademark under several classes that include clothing and accessories. Swift has several (over 60) federal trademark applications, but she has not attempted to register LUCKY 13–which would likely be denied based on the previously registered marks.

Lucky 13 is demanding that Swift’s products be taken off the market immediately.

Moral of the Story

These recent trademark disputes highlight the importance of protecting your IP. The last thing you want is to spend time and money building a brand and reputation only to have another company steal your trademarks and damage your reputation. Check out this previous post on the Seattle Small Business Lawyer’s blog for more information about federally registering your trademarks.

Also, check out my ten tips for protecting your trademarks.

If you have any questions about how to register your trademarks or how you can protect your IP in general, please contact me.

Photo: Andrew Buckingham | Flickr
: Eva Rinaldi | Flickr

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