The IP File’s mission is to scour the universe for compelling stories in intellectual property law. In the United States, there are four main types of intellectual property protection available: patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.
It’s a historic week for trademarks! On January 21, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, which marks the high court’s first substantive ruling on trademarks in more than ten years. In its decision, the Supreme Court unanimously held that trademark tacking is a factual question, and thus, should be decided by juries.
We have previously addressed the Supreme Court’s decision in Octane Fitness, LLC v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc., 12-1184, Slip Op. at 7 (2014), which relaxed the standard for awarding attorney’s fees under Section 285 of the Patent Act (“§285”) and ruled that decisions on §285 are entitled to deference on appeal. In the patent litigation realm, the Octane Fitness decision does not seem to have led to an overwhelming trend toward awarding fees. It does, however, beg the question: how has this impacted the standard for awarding attorney’s fees in other types of intellectual property cases, such as trademarks and trade secrets?
By: Kollin J. Zimmermann
“Priority of use” is a key issue in any case involving a trademark ownership dispute. As the Ninth Circuit has explained, “To acquire ownership of a trademark it is not enough to have invented the mark first or even to have registered it first; the party claiming ownership must have been the first to actually use the mark in the sale of goods or services.” Brookfield Commc'ns, Inc. v. W. Coast Entm't Corp., 174 F.3d 1036, 1047 (9th Cir. 1999).