Sometimes the PTO does get it right!

PTO geek post alert!

One of the PTO’s most
exasperating grounds for refusal of registration is that the mark
sought to be registered is primarily merely a surname.  While for Smith
or Miller that may be fine, there are plenty of really obscure surnames
that the public really just doesn’t view as a surname.  (See this response to an initial refusal to register PUGET ENERGY on the ground that Puget is primarily merely a surname – it worked, by the way).

How delighted I was then to read David Lebovitz’s wonderful blog this morning: First, I learned about a new American chocolatier, Askinosie Chocolate
Then I started to wonder . . . I see the (R) registration notice, but
I’m wondering whether that’s a surname.  Sounds like “Ashkenazi,” the
word for Jews of Eastern European origin . . . wonder if the PTO had an
issue with that as a surname . . . Let’s check!

Well, I checked, and the PTO reflexively issued a surname refusal, but then backed off with little fuss
The applicant didn’t even have to argue the rareness of the name, which
suggests to me that the PTO had a pretty weak case; normally, even when
their database shows as few as 30-odd listings of a particular name
among millions, they’ll raise the refusal.

So bravo to all, and now it’s time to track down that chocolate!

Destination: Paris et les jeux de mots

I love wordplay.  I wouldn’t call myself a master, but dilettante? Sure.  So one thing I enjoyed observing in Paris was how the French employ multi-layered and even multilingual wordplay to create product and business names.  This shop was on our way to the bus:

Took me two days to figure it out: Harry Cover?  Well, if you pronounce it with a French accent, it’s haricots verts, or green beans.  Great name for a produce shop, and the figues were delicious.

Then there’s my kids’ favorite non-patisserie snack – Pom’Potes.  Where do I begin?  Well, there’s pomme, which means apple, compote which is the same in English, and pote, which is slang for “pal.”  Put it all together and you get a name that’s cute and catchy.

Not a play on words, but a product name in which my daughters reveled?  Pschitt, a light and refreshing lemon-lime soda.  Click on that link and you’ll see that its makers realize what an entertaining name it is too.

The feta cheese precedent

Found this tidbit about a Lebanese plot to attack Israel over misappropriation of tasty food items on Above the Law.  This article is an amazing example about how intellectual property rights and decisions relating to them can be misconstrued at every level – from the party seeking vindication of a right to the media reporting on the topic. 

The article and the assertions in it are simply inarticulate.  There is a reference to a “food copyright”; a reference to foods that “the Lebanese considered their trademarks”; the notion that an EU decision on feta as a geographic indication is precedential in Lebanon and/or Israel (it could be – but I couldn’t find any authority to support it); and the claim that because foods such as tabouleh, kubbeh, hummus, falafel and fattoush had been produced in Lebanon prior to Israel’s establishment, Lebanon has the right to be their sole producer.  (Since Lebanon attained statehood only five years before Israel did, and those foods were clearly being made in those lands (and others) perhaps even centuries before the establishment of today’s borders, this claim is feeble). The conclusion that “the Lebanese Industrialists Association is working on registering all the foods and ingredients and submitting a report to the Lebanese government since only it can appeal to the international courts against Israel and ‘prevent it from stealing the foods that others produce'” — well, it’s breathtaking.

Can’t we all just get along and enjoy a good meal?

Lame name, unappealing concept

Meet Kraft’s new Bagel-fuls

        

Completely lame name, and from a trademark perspective it’s always risky to have a plural trademark that you’re compelled to use in the singular.  But that’s not important now.  Rather, let me thrill you with Kraft’s own description of why the hell anyone would want cream-cheese stuffed bagel tubes: “Bagel-fuls are one example of how we are reframing our categories. Part of this strategy includes making our products more relevant by understanding key consumer trends, like quick meals – and their impact on our business.”  Color me ignorant, I just thought food was there to sustain and nourish you.  Don’t get me wrong;  I confess to buying some packaged and portion-controlled foods for convenience’s sake along with the rest of America.  But somehow a food item that either appears to have had its genesis in a focus group or an inside joke or dare is just not that appealing to me.  And the visual of a woman delightedly consuming this decidedly non-bagel shaped product while another woman looks on with envy?  Yeah, I figured that one out too.  Suffice to say, when my husband and I saw this commercial our visceral response was “Ewwwwwwwwww.”  Your mileage may vary.

An article both accurate and mouth-watering

I consider it my duty to give credit where it’s due, and to point out accurate analyses of intellectual property rights by non-IP geeks.  Corby Kummer does an excellent job in this article about bread wars; or, what happens when collaborators in a recipe split up.  Kummer makes clear that neither a recipe nor a method of making bread is subject to protection, and that apart from a catchy and non-descriptive name, trademark protection isn’t available either.  Indeed, Kummer quotes baker Jim Lahey as saying “rather than squabble, bakers should do their best to help each other increase sales and steal back sales from the industrial producers that caught on to the idea that “artisanal” bread sells.”  Hmm . . . should the fashion industry take a slice from the bakers’ loaf instead of clamoring for protection of clothing designs?