Running a business can mean having to come up with unique and innovative ideas that set a company apart from the competition. For some Colorado business owners, these ideas may flow easily, but it is important that they take the proper steps to protect their ideas and other intellectual property. Otherwise, competitors could try to copy those ideas.
Running a Colorado business involves a lot of original thinking. Owners need to think of branding ideas, names, slogans, logos and more that can help make their businesses more recognizable. Of course, after gaining success, a business could be at risk of having others use similar words or logos to confuse potential customers, which is why having trademarks is important.
Classic rock fans in Colorado instantly recognize the song "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin, but a chord sequence from the famous song has been at the heart of a copyright dispute. The members of the British rock band have now resolved the case after an 11-judge panel at a U.S. appeals court affirmed the original ruling in 2016 that declared that the songwriter accusing the rock group of infringement could not prove a violation of copyright.
One of Colorado's best-known companies is locked in a trademark battle over the name of its hard seltzer product. Molson Coors is facing a trademark infringement lawsuit over the name of its newly announced Vizzy brand, which is scheduled to launch in the future. Future Proof Brands, which manufactures an alternate hard seltzer called Brizzy, said that the company should be barred from using the name due to a risk of consumer confusion in the marketplace. Brizzy was created in 2018 and launched in the market in September 2019, and its manufacturer expects to exceed $2 million in sales in its first year of availability.
Trademark owners in Colorado and around the country sometimes find themselves embroiled in legal battles with infringers that drag on for years, but few of them last as long as the dispute between Adidas and H&M. The case began in 1997 when Adidas filed a lawsuit against the Swedish clothing company over allegedly infringing merchandise, and it was finally resolved in favor of H&M on Jan. 28.
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.