Theodore Chiacchio Image

Theodore Chiacchio

is the Founder and Owner of Chiacchio IP, LLC, a law firm that specializes in intellectual property law. Mr. Chiacchio has been practicing intellectual property law for over 15 years. He regularly prepares and prosecutes U.S. patent and trademark applications. Mr. Chiacchio counsels clients regarding a wide range of intellectual property issues, including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret issues. Mr. Chiacchio prepares cease-and-desist letters for clients whose intellectual property rights are being infringed or misappropriated. Mr. Chiacchio has also spent well over a decade litigating intellectual property disputes on behalf of his clients. He has served as lead trial counsel in federal trademark infringement, copyright infringement, and trade secret misappropriation litigation; and has played an integral role in five patent infringement trials.

For more information or to contact Mr. Chiacchio, please visit his Firm Profile Page.

Recent Articles by Theodore Chiacchio

Third-Party Trademark Usage and Likelihood of Confusion

When examining trademark applications, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) assesses whether the applied-for trademark presents a likelihood of confusion among consumers as compared to other registered U.S. trademarks. In making this determination, the USPTO considers a list of factors first laid out in In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. 476 F.2d 1357 (C.C.P.A. 1973), commonly referred to as the Du Pont factors. One of the Du Pont factors is the number and nature of similar marks in use by third parties on similar goods or services. Id. at 1361. This article examines the significance of third-party usage evidence to a likelihood of confusion analysis.

Guideposts for Determining Whether a Mark is Functioning as a Trademark

Under the Lanham Act, a trademark is any combination of words, names, symbols, or devices that are used to identify and distinguish goods or services and to indicate their source. Am. Express Co. v. Goetz, 515 F.3d 156, 159 (2nd Cir. 2008). Therefore, a trademark, in order to be deserving of protection as such, must be used in such a manner that it designates the source of the goods or services (even if that source is unknown). 15 U.S.C. § 1127. (Unless otherwise indicated, references to “trademarks” are intended to encompass “service marks” as well.)

What Baby Yoda and T-Mobile’s Magenta Mark Can Teach Us About When to Enforce IP Rights

Deciding whether or not to enforce one’s intellectual property rights is a significant decision for any business (or individual). Litigation in general tends to be an expensive proposition and intellectual property litigation ranks toward the top with regard to average cost. While the average total cost of U.S. trademark infringement and copyright infringement litigation varies depending on the nature of the case and the stakes involved, such costs (i.e., attorneys’ fees and third-party costs) average in the $300,000-$500,000 range. Patent infringement litigation is typically even more expensive. Intellectual property enforcement decisions therefore must be made with care, taking into consideration all relevant legal, financial, and other business considerations. This article discusses the considerations affecting intellectual property enforcement decisions through the prism of two examples: T-Mobile’s trademark rights in the color magenta and the very popular Baby Yoda GIFs that seem to be everywhere online. Both companies recently experienced considerable backlash when IP enforcement of these rights went wrong.

Top Tips for Maintaining Adequate Quality Control Over Trademark Licensees

In order for rights in a trademark to persist, the mark must be used in commerce continuously. Wallack v. Idexx Labs., Inc., No. 11CV2996-GPC(KSC), 2015 WL 5943844, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 13, 2015). Abandonment of a mark is, therefore, an affirmative defense to a trademark infringement claim. One form of trademark abandonment is non-use of the mark. A second form of trademark abandonment is uncontrolled or “naked” licensing of one’s trademark. The policy behind prohibiting uncontrolled licensing is reflected in 15 U.S.C. § 1127, which states that “[a] mark will be deemed abandoned … [w]hen any course of conduct of the owner, including acts of omission as well as commission, causes the mark to …  lose its significance as a mark.” 15 U.S.C. § 1127 (emphasis added); Already LLC v. Nike Inc., 568 U.S. 85, 99 (2013). “Naked licensing is an uncontrolled licensing of a mark whereby the licensee can place the mark on any quality or type of goods or services, raising a grave danger that the public will be deceived by such a usage.” Doeblers’ Penn. Hybrids, 442 F.3d at 823 (internal quotations and citations omitted). The way to protect against this danger to the consuming public is to require the licensor to actively police use of the licensed mark.

Federal Circuit Treatment of ‘Commercial Success’ in Hatch-Waxman Cases

In order to establish that the commercial success factor supports a non-obviousness finding, the patentee must establish that a connection (or nexus) exists between the novel aspects of the patent claim(s) and the alleged commercial success. Id.; WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., 889 F.3d 1308, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2018). In other words, the patentee must show that the novel aspects of the claim(s) are driving sales and not aspects of the claim(s) that were known in the prior art. In re Huai-Hung Kao, 639 F.3d 1057, 1069 (Fed. Cir. 2011); WesternGeco, 889 F.3d at 1330. In cases brought pursuant to the Hatch-Waxman Act, while there are exceptions, it is most common that patent challengers’ arguments focus predominantly or entirely on an alleged lack of nexus given the substantial sales typically enjoyed by the brand-name drug products that are the subject of such litigation. Though it bears noting that the mere fact that a company is pursuing a generic version of a brand-name drug, by itself, does not support a “commercial success” finding. Galderma Labs., Inc. v. Tolmar, Inc., 737 F.3d 737, 740 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

Patent Eligibility Determinations in Life Sciences Patent Cases

This article examines Supreme Court and Federal Circuit analyses of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 where the patent claims at issue were directed to Life Sciences-related technologies. I first examine this topic in the context of composition of matter patent claims and then in the context of method claims. As reflected in the below discussion, while the § 101 case law is fairly straightforward with respect to composition claims, the case law is murkier when it comes to method claims.

Federal Circuit Treatment of Inherency Arguments Aimed at Method of Treatment Patent Claims

This article examines Federal Circuit case law analyzing validity challenges to method of treatment patent claims where the claims at issue are alleged to recite an inherent property of a method or molecule taught in the prior art. While Federal Circuit case law challenging method of treatment claims on inherent anticipation grounds is generally globally consistent and reasonably straightforward, the court’s inherent obviousness case law is less so.

The Federal Circuit’s Approach to the Infringement Analysis in Hatch-Waxman Cases

35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(2) provides that it shall be an act of infringement to submit an Abbreviated New Drug Application (“ANDA”) “if the purpose of such submission is to obtain approval … to engage in the commercial manufacture, use, or sale of a drug … claimed in a patent or the use of which is claimed in a patent before the expiration of such patent.” 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(2). The statute requires that the infringement analysis focus on what is likely to be sold following FDA approval. Bayer AG v. Biovail Corp., 279 F.3d 1340, 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2002). The governing case law holds that this hypothetical inquiry is grounded in the ANDA application itself, the materials submitted in support thereof, as well as any other relevant evidence submitted by the applicant or patent holder. However, as reflected in the below discussion of key Federal Circuit case law examining the appropriate analytical approach, and the sorts of evidence properly considered, when assessing infringement in the ANDA context, these seemingly bedrock legal principles in reality fall by the way side and, therefore, neither patentees nor ANDA applicants should allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security through reliance on such verbiage.