The Washington JEBSKINS, Perhaps?

CBS Miami reports that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has weighed in on the ongoing controversy surrounding the use of the term “redskins” in the name of Washington’s NFL team.  In an interview for the radio show The Arena, the former Florida governor stated that he did not think that the team should change its name, opining that “[i]t’s a sport, for crying out loud. It’s a football team. I’m missing something here, I guess.”  On the other side of the argument, the activist group Change the Mascot said in a statement that “no presidential candidate should be promoting this racial slur against Native Americans,” and agreed that Bush “clearly is missing something.”  Similarly, in 2014 the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found the term “redskins” to be disparaging, cancelling all six of the team’s federal trademark registrations containing the term.  As noted in previous blog posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, the cancellation of the team’s trademark registrations does not mean that it cannot continuing using the name, or that other parties are free to use the name without permission.  However, trademark registration does provide significant benefits, particularly when it comes to enforcement, and one imagines that most trademark owners would prefer to have their marks protected by registration.

There are many people who, like Jeb Bush, think that the “redskins” controversy is much ado about nothing, and many others who find the term deeply offensive and disparaging to Native Americans.  Regardless of one’s views on the subject, the long-running dispute could likely be resolved by changing the team’s name to something less controversial and, as a bonus, more registrable.  Bush, for his part, has already filed to register JEB! as a trademark, and plainly likes the idea of a ® registration symbol next to his nickname.  How about the JEBSKINS?  Everyone wins.  Read the full article here.  From CBS Miami.

By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via  Wikimedia Commons .

By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Will AirPods Replace EarPods For Your iPod?

AppleInsider reports that a newly-incorporated entity called Entertainment in Flight, LLC has filed a U.S. trademark application for the mark AIRPODS.  According to the application, the AIRPODS mark is intended to be used with the following list of goods:

Audio components and accessories; sound recording and reproducing apparatus; digital video recorders and players; remote control apparatus; audio speakers; earphones, headphones; microphones; voice recording and recognition apparatus; radios, radio transmitters, and receivers; handheld digital electronic devices and software related thereto; wireless communication devices for voice, data or image transmission; electrical and electronic connectors, couplers, wires, cables, chargers, docks, docking stations, interfaces, and adapters for use with all of the aforesaid goods.

The U.S. application, filed September 22, 2015, claims priority to an earlier application for the AIRPODS mark filed in Jamaica on March 23, 2015, just one day shy of six months before the U.S. filing date.  The timing of the U.S. filing was clearly based on the six-month deadline for priority filing under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, a treaty between the U.S. and 174 other countries that allows a trademark application filed in one member country (e.g., the U.S.) to claim priority to an equivalent trademark application filed in another member country (e.g., Jamaica), if the later application is filed within six months of the filing date of the earlier application (see an earlier post on this subject here).

The AIRPODS filing has the Apple user community abuzz with speculation that Apple may be the real company behind the application, and that the applicant of record, Entertainment in Flight, LLC, is just a proxy controlled by Apple.  There are several pieces of circumstantial evidence to support the proposition that AIRPODS is intended to be the name of one or more future Apple products.  First, the AIRPODS moniker fits squarely within the company’s current and past product nomenclature, which includes names such as iPod, iPad Air, MacBook Air, AirDrop, AirMac, AirPlay, AirPort, AirPrint, AirTunes, and perhaps most tellingly, EarPods.  Second, the strategy of initially filing in Jamaica, then filing a U.S. application on or near the six-month priority deadline, is one frequently employed by Apple (see, e.g., the aforesaid EarPods mark).  The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office is favored by Apple due to the fact that, in addition to being somewhat obscure, it does not appear to have a publicly accessible database of trademark filings, which enables the company to secure an early filing date while effectively keeping a new product name secret.  Third, the goods listed in the application could easily encompass large swaths of Apple’s current product lines and technologies.  Finally, as the article notes, Apple clearly envisions a wireless future for its products, and wireless headphones would be a natural step in that direction.  While only time will tell whether any of this speculation proves to be correct, you should not be surprised if your next iPhone comes with AirPods.  From AppleInsider.

By Juanibb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via  Wikimedia Commons .

By Juanibb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Madison Chamber of Commerce Gets New Logo

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce tweeted this week that it is adopting a new logo.  The new logo, shown below, is already featured on the GMCC’s Twitter profile, and one imagines that the organization’s website will soon be updated as well.  The new logo can be seen bursting into action by clicking on the video tweet below.  Interestingly (well, to some), the GMCC does not appear to have sought or secured federal or state trademark protection for either the incoming or outgoing logo design.

Failure to secure trademark protection for a business name, slogan, or logo can potentially result in consumer confusion, a loss of exclusive rights, an inability to prevent others from using similar or identical marks, a forced rebranding for the business, and/or infringement liability, all of which tend to be rather nasty (and expensive) surprises for business owners.  Moreover, almost any legal issue arising from the use of an unregistered mark will likely cost more to resolve than the cost of securing protection for the mark.  Trademarks can be tremendously valuable assets, but much of their value lies in the ability to protect and enforce them.  Business owners should bear this in mind before making significant investments in their brands.