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Considering Use in Commerce, Source-Identifying-Function, and Conduct vs. Confusion

On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court vacated the 10thCircuit’s decision in Abitron Austria GmbH et al. v. Hetronic International Inc(“Hetronic”). The Supreme Court principally held that the Lanham Act does not have extraterritorial application. As Crowell previously discussed, the Supreme Court sought briefing on Hetronic from the U.S. Solicitor General, signaling an interest in addressing the Tenth Circuit’s decision, the extraterritoriality of the Lanham Act, and the complex circuit split that has at least three distinct tests. Although the Court agreed 9-0 that the lower court’s decision should be vacated, Justice Alito’s majority opinion and Justice Sotomayor’s concurring opinion disagreed on the second step of the extraterritoriality test, specifically regarding whether foreign conduct can have domestic implications. The majority disagreed with both the Tenth Circuit and the Solicitor General, concluding that the Lanham Act cannot apply to foreign defendants’ foreign conduct.Continue Reading The Unanimous, but Contentiously Fractured, Supreme Court Decision on Extraterritoriality of the Lanham Act

On February 27, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Division of Advertising Practices updated their business guidance on the usage of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) for 2023. In their post titled “Keep your AI claim in check”, the FTC guides marketers on how best to legally and efficiently utilize AI in advertising and avoid AI washing. Building upon the FTC’s previous AI guidance of 2020 and 2021, this year’s iteration emphasizes that false or unsubstantiated claims about a product’s efficacy—including those that involve promises about the ability of AI—runs afoul of the FTC Act. Specifically, the FTC reminds marketers of the following questions that they should consider with the increasing use of AI in products:Continue Reading Everyone’s Talking AI, Including the FTC: Key Takeaways from the FTC’s 2023 AI Guidance

The global fashion marketplace is experiencing unprecedented digital transformation with the emergence of the metaverse and NFTs. Given implementation is still in its early stages, fashion brands have closely watched the Hermès vs. Rothschild “MetaBirkins” dispute as a case that has the power to help define the future boundaries for what constitutes trademark infringement in the metaverse.Continue Reading A victory for Hermès in the bag: How the “MetaBirkins” verdict may pave the landscape for the future of fashion and the metaverse

#ICYMI – The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) extended the public comment period on its solicitation for public comments regarding potential updates and changes to the Green Guides (Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims) by 60 days.  On December 14, the FTC held an open meeting and voted to notice the public comment period. On December 20, the FTC noticed the public comment period on the Federal Register, which would have originally expired on February 21, 2023. All public comments must now be filed by April 24, 2023.Continue Reading Green Guides Comment Deadline Extended

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced it is seeking public comment on potentially updating, expanding, and/or altering the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, known as the Green Guides (16 CFR pt 260).  Yesterday, December 14, 2022, the FTC held an open Commission meeting where the Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the publication of a Federal Register notice announcing a public comment period.  The notice is expected to be published in mid-January.  Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, comments will be due within sixty days.   

The FTC’s Green Guides are designed to help advertisers avoid making environmental claims that may mislead consumers.  77 Fed. Reg. 62122 (Oct. 11, 2012).  The Green Guides discourage unqualified environmental benefit claims, nothing that they are difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate.  The Green Guides were first issued in 1992 and last updated in 2012.  An update to the Green Guides has been expected and desired by many as the Green Guides help businesses to make accurate environmental marketing claims and, if followed, help businesses ward off allegations of deceptive advertising claims. Continue Reading FTC Seeks Public Comments on the Green Guides

On November 21, 2022 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed—after passing on the issue once before—to hear Jack Daniel’s (JDPI) challenge to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in VIP Prods. LLC v. Jack Daniel’s Props, where the Ninth Circuit affirmed without opinion the district court’s grant of summary judgment to VIP and the dismissal of JDPI’s trademark infringement claim,[1] on the grounds that JDPI could not satisfy either prong of the Rogers test. The Rogers test balances free expression under the First Amendment against the trademark protections of the Lanham Act. The Supreme Court granted certiorari on the questions of whether parody uses of another’s mark receive First Amendment protection from liability under the Lanham Act and whether parody is exempt from claims of dilution by tarnishment under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)(3)(C). The decision could clarify the balance between trademark and the First Amendment, an issue that has long-confounded practitioners.Continue Reading More Bark or Bite? U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Whether the First Amendment Has the Teeth to Protect Whiskey Bottle Shaped Dog Toy Maker from Jack Daniel’s Lanham Act Claims

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to clarify the extraterritorial reach of the Lanham Act for the first time in seventy years.  The decision will impact corporations’ ability to seek damages for international trademark infringement, and may resolve a circuit split on the applicability of the Lanham Act on foreign defendants’ foreign conduct.  The Court will review the Tenth Circuit’s decision in Abitron Austria GmbH et al. v. Hetronic International Inc. (“Hetronic”) and the extraterritoriality of the Lanham Act, seemingly the Court’s desired outcome after requesting the United States weigh in on Abitron Austria GmbH’s (“Abitron”) certiorari petition filed in January 2022. Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court to Decide the Extraterritorial Application of the Lanham Act

Allegations of trademark infringement against celebrity-founded brands are not new. In 2015, resort-wear brand Island Company LLC sued Kendall and Kylie Jenner for use of the phrase “Run Away, Fall in Love, Never Return,” which resembled Island Company’s trademark phrase “Quit Your Job, Buy a Ticket, Get A Tan, Fall In Love, Never Return”.[1] The case was settled in January 2016. In 2021, an Italian tribunal ordered social media influencer Chiara Ferragni to pull her snow boots from her footwear line, finding infringement on Tecnica group’s trademark for the world-renowned Moonboot.[2] Now, Vans, Inc., a sneaker company born out of 1960s California counter-culture, alleges trademark infringement by MSCHF, a Brooklyn art collective endorsed by rapper Tyga.Continue Reading Fashionable Parody or a Trademark Infringing Wearable Sneaker? The Second Circuit Hears Both Sides.

A new draft report to Congress by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on behalf of the Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee cites textiles and the fashion industry as the leading sources of microfiber pollution in the environment. While the draft report acknowledges uncertainty about how microfiber pollution impacts the environment and human health, the report’s authors recommend that the textile and fashion industry—along with manufacturers of clothes washers and dryers and personal care products—design their products to prevent microfibers from being released into the environment.

The draft report was required to be developed pursuant to the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, enacted in 2020 on a bipartisan basis to address problems associated with marine debris and plastics in the ocean. It has been made available for public comment, which closes October 17, 2022.Continue Reading New Federal Report on Microfiber Pollution Spotlights Textile and Fashion Industries

Earlier this year, Hermès filed a trademark infringement suit against Los Angeles-based designer Mason Rothschild for creating and selling faux-fur digital renditions of the luxury Hermès Birkin handbags and using a collection of 100 NFTs, titled “MetaBirkins,” to authenticate the digital images.[1] In response, Rothschild filed a motion to dismiss Hermès’ trademark infringement claim under the Rogers test on the basis that the digital images of the Birkin bags are “art” and, therefore, receive First Amendment protection.[2] Hermès opposed, arguing that the Polaroid factors— instead of the Rogers test—should apply, to assess likelihood of confusion.[3] On May 18, 2022, the court denied Rothschild’s motion to dismiss, concluding that: (1) the Rogers test applies to the trademark infringement analysis of the “MetaBirkins” title, and (2) the Polaroid factors apply to the explicit misleadingness analysis.[4]Continue Reading In the bag (for now): Hermès survives motion to dismiss in MetaBirkin NFT lawsuit