Earlier this month, the Lanham Act saw its 75th Anniversary. On July 5th, 1947, the Lanham Act, also known as the Trademark Act, went into effect after being signed by President Harry S. Truman the year prior. The Lanham Act created the modern day national trademark registration system and enforced federal protections for trademark holders. Expanded upon throughout the decades, it has been a critical piece of trademark legislation for the last seventy-five years.
Trademarks are around us every day – they present themselves on the toothpaste we use in the morning to the garbage bags we take out at night. The idea of trademarks dates back to before the common era, wherein manufacturers of goods would leave identifying symbols on their products. Artifacts from Rome have been found with engraved marks of initials and names of what are presumed to be the makers. Historians note that blacksmiths who made swords for the Roman Empire were the first to use trademarks.
Prior to the Lanham Act, federally enforced trademark legislation was somewhat ineffective and state statutes held most of the burden. In addition, trademarks did not expire, regardless of their use. Once the Lanham Act was enacted, it provided the procedures for federally registering trademarks and maintaining those registrations. The Lanham Act also gives trademark holders federal jurisdiction in enforcing their rights to the mark against infringers, including unregistered trademark infringement. In addition, the Lanham Act provides a cause of action for trademark dilution, cybersquatting, unfair competition and false advertising. An example of the use of the Lanham Act in enforcing rights against false advertising claims is seen in General Mills, Inc. v. Chobani, LLC, 158 F. Supp. 3d 106 (N.D.N.Y. 2016); Chobani, LLC v. Dannon Company, Inc., 157 F. Supp. 3d 190 (N.D.N.Y. 2016). In 2016, yogurt makers Dannon and General Mills (Yoplait) sued their yogurt competitor Chobani for violations under the Lanham Act for commercials that featured products from the brands in poor light. The ads mentioned ingredients such as sucralose being used in Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt and potassium sorbate in Yoplait Greek 100 and implied both were not safe for consumptions; and the court ordered Chobani to pull the ads containing the false message.
The Lanham Act is an important piece of legislation in the world of trademarks. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) celebrates the anniversary today with a webinar featuring guest speakers such as Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Representative Ted Deutch of Florida and more.
For more information about trademarks, please contact Kim Grimsley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy World IP Day! World IP Day was created 21 years ago and is celebrated on April 26th each year. It is a day to raise awareness of IP (Intellectual Property, which includes trademarks, copyright, trade secrets and patents) and how IP impacts daily life. Each year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) chooses a new theme. This year, WIPO’s theme is “IP and SMEs: Taking your Ideas to Market” which highlights how Intellectual Property helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow and thrive.
In a video message from WIPO’s Director General Daren Tang, he describes small and medium-sized enterprises as “unsung heroes” noting that SMEs make up 90% of all companies worldwide and 70% of global employment. A link to his message and the WIPO page on World IP Day is found at https://www.wipo.int/ip-outreach/en/ipday/.
Intellectual property is extremely valuable to SMEs to assist in their value and growth. As IP attorneys, we work with SME’s on a day in day out basis to provide our clients with the guidance and knowledge to identify, build upon and protect their valuable intangible IP assets.
Oliver & Grimsley’s own Mike Oliver has been named to the 2021 Best Lawyers® list for his work in Copyright Law, Information Technology Law, Trade Secrets Law and Trademark Law. Mike has been on this list for 15 years (since 2006). Mike was also named Copyright Law Lawyer of the Year in 2020 for Baltimore (the third time). He has previously been named Best Lawyers® “Lawyer of the Year” in Baltimore for Information Technology Law in 2016, Trademark Law in 2015 and 2012, and Intellectual Property Law in 2011. Only one lawyer is chosen a year for each practice area and location and is generally chosen by who receives the highest overall peer-feedback.
Mike Oliver has been practicing law for over thirty years and his wealth of experience led him to opening his own firm, alongside partner Kim Grimsley, in 2013.
Everyone at Oliver & Grimsley would like to congratulate Mike on his achievement and look forward to his continuing to excel in the future