Trademarks Aren’t Just For Words and Logos

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connie murrayBy Connie Murray

“The Small Business Attorney”

December 10, 2015

If you follow me on periscope then you know that yesterday I attempted to jump on Periscope to discuss the lawsuit filed by Pepperidge Farms against Trader Joe’s for trademark infringement. Unfortunately my phone died with 40% battery life. Samsung you must do better.

I have discussed what constitutes a trademark in the past.  Although most people are familiar with using trademarks to protect their brand name and logos, most don’t consider trademarking unique shapes and designs that are associated with their brand.  This lawsuit is a real world example of a multimillion dollar company doing just that.

The lawsuit filed against Trader Joe’s accuses the company of being maliciously and calculating in their attempt to injure Pepperidge Farm. Pepperidge has spent a considerable amount of money and time building their brand.  The company registered its first trademark in 1956. Since that time it has filed over 20 applications including an application for the shape of its Milano cookie and the design of its untraditional bag. Its effort to become a household name was successful, as the company has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue in the last decade.

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What do you think?  Remember they don’t have to be identical.  The test is  similarly confusing. The similar packaging and cookie design could not only lead to customer confusion but also dilute the brand that Pepperidge Farm has spent decades building.

So why does this matter?  Most people are aware that trademark law protects their logo and brand name but it doesn’t stop there.  You can take a play from Pepperidge Farm’s playbook and create a remarkable product that jumps off the shelf.  I discussed thinking outside the box when building your brand on today’s Periscope.  You can catch the replay here.

Off the Mark offers trademark, copyright and business development solutions for entrepreneurs and businesses. We protect you and your business through federal trademark registration, copyright registration, contracts and business formation. Contact our office to learn how we can help your business.

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