Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Abandoned or non-abandoned brands? This isn't a movie

I am not a movie person, but there are some movies that I've seen, including a 1947 one with this subplot:

In the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street, the man hired to play Santa at a Macy’s Store in New York City readily told Macy’s customers where to go to find that certain toy Macy’s was out of or where to buy a toy at a lower price. Those at the top were angered at first, but in the long run the idea was an awesome promotional tool with newspapers boasting headlines, “Macy’s Sending People to Other Stores!”

I wasn't around back then, but Macy's obviously got a lot of free publicity from that plot twist.

However, that was just a movie. Reality is slightly different.

But in a new lawsuit brought by the company that echoes a suit from 2011 that was slated to come to trial soon, Macy’s says the California company behind the resurrection of Hydrox and Astro Pops is infringing on trademarks it held for many of those recognizable brand names.

Macy's claims that it properly acquired the trademarks, and that Strategic Marks is infringing. Strategic Marks, however, claims that Macy's no longer holds the trademarks:

Strategic Marks has countersued, claiming that Macy’s had abandoned the trademarks, and citing the Lanham Act again. Under that act, a mark is considered abandoned if it isn’t used in the three years. In fact, claims Strategic Marks, Macy’s is the one doing the infringing on the marks it obtained, by selling vintage brand T-shirts and tote bags on www.macys.com.

The International Trademark Association explains the legalities:

In the United States, if a trademark owner ceases use of a trademark without intent to resume use of the trademark in the future, the trademark will be deemed abandoned. Under the Lanham Act, non-use of a trademark for three consecutive years creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment of the trademark (whether registered or at common law). Temporary or seasonal non-use of a trademark, particularly when such cyclical use is typical in an industry or market, generally does not constitute grounds for abandonment under U.S. trademark law. Rather, periods of non-use must be accompanied by the “intent not to resume use.”

I figured that Macy's would take some action to preserve the trademarks of companies that they have acquired, but this legal page only mentions Macy's:

Macy’s, Inc., as well as page headers, custom graphics, buttons, images and other content on this web site, are subject to trademark, service mark, trade dress, copyright and or other proprietary or intellectual property rights or licenses held by Macy’s, Inc. or its subsidiaries. Other trademarks, product names and company names or logos used on this web site are the property of their respective owners. Except as expressly authorized, the use or misuse of any trademarks, trade names, logos, images, graphics or content from this web site is strictly prohibited.

Not that I'm about to open The Broadway, or any other Macy's (actually Federated) acquired brand. But I guess I could try.
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