The legalization of cannabis in Colorado has opened up new frontiers for entrepreneurs developing new products, strains or marketing methods. Just like in other businesses, however, intellectual property can be a major concern. People distinguish their products and services from one another with unique taglines, logos and branding, and trademark and copyright protection can be essential to formalizing that process. However, despite statewide legalization in a number of areas, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, continues to refuse registration for marks related to the cannabis industry, particularly for goods made from the cannabis plant.
Colorado residents who have flown American Airlines may be familiar with the term 'Flagship' in connection to the airline's premium services. American says that it began using the term 'Flagship' in the 1930s and officially protected the term as a trademark in 1999. On Dec. 17, American sued Delta Airlines for allegedly infringing on its 'Flagship' trademark.
When companies perceive that a violation of intellectual property rights has occurred, they may want to pursue the party that has committed the violation. However, there are also situations in which the company might determine that there are better courses of action. Colorado fans of "The Mandalorian" might have noticed this playing out around the image of Baby Yoda.
Colorado residents who watched the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July may have seen Nike commercials that featured the tagline 'Sport Changes Everything." The Portland-based athletic apparel maker invested $16 million in the campaign hoping that it would associate the brand with youth sports, but future ads were put on hold on Dec. 2 when a U.S. district court judge issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the company from using the 'Sport Changes Everything" slogan.
Trademark infringement lawsuits are often filed in Colorado and around the country when business owners discover that another company is using branding elements much like their own to sell similar products. One such lawsuit was filed recently by a Georgia entrepreneur against Target Corporation. The woman behind the lawsuit owns a company called Garnish & Gather that promotes food growers in the Atlanta area, and she took legal action when she found out that the big-box retailer had named their new line of premium foods Good & Gather.
Businesses in Colorado and throughout America will likely have a website, and this means that they will have to pick a domain name. If a domain name is distinctive in some way, it will typically qualify for trademark protection. Once a domain name has been trademarked, no one else can use the name without permission. If the trademark has been infringed upon, its owner may be entitled to financial or other forms of relief.
Some cryptocurrency enthusiasts in Colorado have been interested in Facebook's recently announced Calibra project for developing crypto, accompanied by the Libra token. At the same time, Facebook has been questioned about the development of the project by government officials as well as major financial companies like Visa, MasterCard and PayPal. Another e-commerce company is suing Facebook over the cryptocurrency, but the subject of the dispute is not the currency itself but the logo being used to advertise the project. Finco Services is also suing the logo's designer over what it claims is trademark infringement.
Colorado readers understand that businesses have the right to protect their trademarks. However, a Pacific Northwest couple claims that Under Amour is taking that concept too far.
For businesses and those in the innovative and creative fields, intellectual property is a concern in Denver and across the nation. Prominent disputes regarding these rights are often fought in public. This is especially true if it involves a creative force like the late comic book icon Stan Lee.
Copyright infringement disputes in Colorado and around the country often hinge on the concept of fair use. The doctrine of fair use allows material to be used without the copyright holder's consent when it is used for purposes including criticism, research, parody or commentary, and it is at the center of a lawsuit between the audio book seller and producer Audible and a group of book publishers including Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan Publishing.