Briefing: June 30, 2023

Brand Barbie, Revised Endorsement Guides, a New OpenAI Lawsuit & More

The potential opposition that I mentioned in this article last week happened: Mattel is looking to block Burberry’s bid to register the BRBY word mark for use on bags and clothing/outerwear. According to Mattel, the BRBY mark – a potential nod to the brand’s London Stock Exchange ticker – is likely to confuse consumers due, in part, to the similarities in “appearance, sound, and commercial impression” between the two marks. Confusion is also likely to abound, per Mattel, due to the dearth of vowels in Burberry’s mark, which will leave consumers without a “guide [as to the] pronunciation.”

Or as one of TFL’s Twitter followers stated this week, “I feel like the main risk of confusion with BRBY is that no one will have any freaking idea what it’s supposed to be, not that people will think it’s about Barbie.” (For a counter-point, do we think people understand what the VLTN on this bag refers to?) I delve into all of that – as well as the interesting role that timing plays in connection with the opposition – in this article.

Mattel’s opposition coincides with a big push by the Southern California-based toy company to bank on the Barbie brand in connection with its July 21 release of the major motion picture of the same name with Warner Bros. Not only is the Greta Gerwin-directed, Margot Robbie-starring film expected to be the biggest – and most-anticipated – movie of the summer (opening weekend ticket sales are projected to reach $55 million), but Mattel is also looking to rake in cash from related licensing deals for its BARBIE trademarks.

This opening blurb ended up being pretty lengthy – so, for space’s sake, you can find the full thing here.

The short of it is: Mattel is looking to parlay the rising relevance of Barbie and her domination of the zeitgeist into big-sized licensing deals/sales. This is a notable opportunity to make up for years of waning demand for/sales of the 64-year-old doll, and to make the most of a rising valuation for the IP behind Brand BARBIE.

A Few Litigation Updates …

– Tremblay v. OpenAITwo writers are suing OpenAI for direct & vicarious © infringement, DMCA violations, unjust enrichment, unfair competition & negligence over its alleged practice of scraping book content w/o the author’s consent.

– Kate Spade v. VinciKate Spade is suing its former licensee for failing to make royalty payments while continuing to sell Kate Spade-branded wares.

– Vera Bradley Designs v. Urban Outfitters: Vera Bradley claims that Urban is selling goods bearing a “pattern that is nearly identical to” its painted feather print. (You can find the © infringement & unfair competition complaint here.)

– Nike v. adidas: SCOTUS refused to grant cert in Nike’s appeal of a long-running patent clash with adidas. The Q that was at issue …

A Couple Trademark Updates …

– The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued another No. 5 bottle-centric registration to Chanel this week. (For some background, you can find that here.)

– In a partial loss for Advance Publications, the TTAB held this week that the Vogue owner waited too long (read: 10 years) to push back against Fashion Electronics Inc.’s “eVogue” mark.

The FTC released updated Endorsement Guides this week. Kelley Drye states in a note that unlike the 2009 Guides, the new Guides include a strict definition of what constitutes a “clear & conspicuous” disclosure. Among other things, the FTC wants disclosures to be “unavoidable.” You can find the final version of the new Guides right here.

In some deal-making news in the fashion/retail, tech & web3 segments …

– Authentic Brands Group has raised $500M from General Atlantic, nabbing a reported valuation of more than $20B in the process.

– Christopher Kane has entered into administration & is looking for a buyer, the London-based brand confirmed on June 21.

– Kering Eyewear confirmed that is has completed the acquisition of UNT, Usinage & Nouvelles Technologies after receiving clearance from the relevant antitrust authorities.

– There were lots of AI rounds this week, which can be found here. One standout: Brilliant Labs has raised $3M in a seed round. The Singapore-based company develops generative AI-embedded AR glasses.

– Upp. has raised $10M in a Seed round. The London-based company leverages AI and ML tech to “help e-commerce retailers optimize ad spend, up product discover & increase overall sales.”

– Patented.AI has raised $4M in a Pre-Seed round to further build out what it calls “the world’s first patent & IP service that is built to find infringement.”

– Thompson Reuters has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AI assistant Casetext for $650M.