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Schott, P.C.'s Idea Law News
August 2014

Top Ten Most Important Trademark Cases

By Stephen B. Schott

Patent attorneys appreciate patent law’s rigidity. Unlike many areas of the law, there are hard rules and unextendible deadlines. In some ways, this inflexibility reflects the personality of the scientists and engineers who benefit from it. But if patent law is predictable and rigid, trademark law is its antithesis: unpredictable and changeable. Its practitioners dabble in a dark art that patent practitioners cannot sometimes appreciate. As a mentor of mine used to say, “The beauty of trademark law is that you can argue any point and support it with 10 cases.” 

Some of the reason trademark law can support many positions is that where patent law is largely regionally consistent, trademark law may not be. Further, trademark law is often subjective so what trademarks are confusing to one jury may not be to another.

Thus, while it was not challenging to come up with a Top Ten Patent Cases 
article and presentation, the same is not true for trademarks. But given the challenge, here’s my shot at a top ten—that turned out to be eight—trademark cases. 



The Rise of the Startup Manufacturer

“Some software startup founders are evolving into product startup founders. It’s an interesting trend.” A product startup founder said this to me over coffee a few months ago. Since then, I’ve been giving what he said some consideration. Has the time of the startup manufacturer come? Or, given the pre-70s stereotype of the garage startup business, maybe the question is better put, “Has the time for the startup manufacturer returned?”

Companies like Jawbone and GoPro answer yes, as does a recent Wall Street Journal article that estimates over 800 million venture dollars were invested in hardware startups last year, almost double the number from 2012. Why the sudden shift? 


Other Articles

The USPTO's Updated Patentable Subject Matter Guidelines

As promised when the Supreme Court issued Alice, the answer to the question “What is patentable?” will be developing over the next several years. But just a few weeks removed from the decision, the USPTO has issued the first of its guidelines for how it will deal with applications after Alice

The Supreme Court Makes it Easier to Penalize Misbehaved Litigants

The Supreme Court invited district courts to use more discretion in awarding attorney fees in “exceptional” patent cases. This 9-0 decision delivered by Justice Sotomayor in a case involving elliptical machines will help judges penalize misbehaving patent litigants. 



Our Mission

Schott, P.C. practices idea law, which is intellectual property law that focuses on patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Our goal is simple: Make the world a better place, one idea at a time. That means working with inventors and creative people to help them protect, share, license, develop, and sell their ideas. 

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