is a trademark and brand management attorney in the Baltimore office of Womble Bond Dickinson. His experiences include developing brand strategies and solutions for high profile companies and individuals, including A-list celebrities.
For more information or to contact Nicholas, please visit his Firm Profile Page.
Two things are true about the world of trademarks—it is rarely boring, and something is always on the horizon. The following are some of the significant trademark decisions of 2019, as well as two critical cases to watch as 2020 begins: 1. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Iancu v. Brunetti rejected the Lanham Act’s ban on offensive marks on the grounds that such a ban violates the First Amendment Right of Free Speech. The case involved clothing brand FUCT, which stands for “Friends You Can’t Trust,” and its founder, Erik Brunetti, who sought to register the brand’s name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO refused to register the name, determining it was immoral and scandalous. Brunetti argued to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) that the mark was not vulgar, and that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act was unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment. However, the TTAB affirmed the USPTO’s refusal and Brunetti appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).
Beyoncé is more than just one of the music industry’s most recognizable stars. She has built a business empire that extends into entertainment production, fashion, major product endorsements and even streaming music distribution through the Tidal platform with her husband, Jay-Z. Forbes named Beyoncé its Most Powerful Woman in Entertainment on two occasions, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide. With such a track record of success, it should come as no surprise that Beyoncé is extremely savvy about the importance and value of personal branding and intellectual property. Through her BGK Trademark Holdings, LLC, the singer owns a number of trademarks related to various products and services, ranging from clothing and accessories to cosmetics and charitable services. Case in point: Beyoncé is engaged in a fierce trademark battle with the owner of a Massachusetts wedding planning business over “Blue Ivy”—the name shared by the wedding event business and the singer’s young daughter.