A “SAD” New Reality in Trademark Legislation

Last year, I took an incredibly exciting class in the realm of intellectual property, called the “IP Colloquium.” It’s a class where Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Chicago-Kent School of Law professors come together to bring in world-renowned speakers from across the country to teach us, students, about issues in the IP world. These issues range from every topic in IP; including trade secrets, copyright, patents, and trademarks. One specific speaker piqued my interest – his name is Eric Goldman. He is a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and focuses his research and teachings on IP, Internet Law, and Advertising Law.

Professor Goldman gave us a first look at his article “A SAD New Category of Abusive Intellectual Property Litigation,” which shed light on a newly discovered IP problem mainly happening in my own backyard – the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the federal trial court in Chicago. The paper, along with his presentation, explained how famous brands and performers are overwhelming the court by suing hundreds of defendants for trademark infringement. Before we get into what the “SAD Scheme” actually is, let’s first go through what trademarks are, how a party infringes a trademark, and where the “SAD” name came from.

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What Could Cookies and Dresses Have in Common…? Trade Dress!

Picture this – you walk into a new bakery. The smells hit you from every direction. You see the different kinds of frosting oozing out of the glass case showing off all the new goodies. Where could you possibly be you might wonder… You’re at Crumbl Cookies! Crumbl is a new-ish national cookie franchise that sells its unique, freshly baked, rotating flavored cookies out of most big cities around the country. Emphasis on the *unique* part.

But, is it really unique? Crumbl discovered two cookie companies were trying to copy their packaging, logos, and rotating weekly ensemble of cookie flavors. As a result, Crumbl filed two  lawsuits against two of its competitors, Dirty Dough and Crave Cookies in May of 2022, alleging trademark and trade dress infringement.

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NCAA Sports and IP – The Perfect Merger

Since the inception of the National Collegiate Athletic Association otherwise known as the “NCAA”, student-athletes were not able to collect any type of financial benefits while they were playing collegiate-level sports. Fast forward to today, student-athletes are now allowed to make profits off of their “name, image, and likeness” aka “NIL,” a type of intellectual property right that’s grouped under the right of publicity (essentially gives each person the exclusive right to use and license their identity for commercial promotion). What I and many others were once not allowed to partake in, is now available and encouraged for all student-athletes. Some student-athletes are already making millions in deals and sponsorships!
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My Summer Working on “Secrets” … Trade Secrets!

Stealing, scheming, heroes, villains, action! You might think I’m talking about the new James Bond movie, but I’m actually talking about intellectual property!

When people hear the words “intellectual property” they may think of the traditional patents, copyrights, or trademarks. But most people might not realize that there is another kind of IP – trade secrets. I definitely fell into the “not knowing” category prior to working at an IP firm this past summer.

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Even a Former President Can Get into Hot Water With the USPTO

Donald Trump, a divisive figure in our current political climate, has faced a massive setback with his new social media network “Truth Social.” On August 2nd, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”)  denied Trump’s application to federally register (which grants federal protection of the trademark) the network’s name as a trademark. This is one of many setbacks that the former President has faced since leaving office. This relatively minor setback could potentially cause major re-branding issues for Truth Social further down the line if his appeal is unsuccessful. If Trump continues using the mark, he may be sued and will eventually have to change the name of his social media network or incur major legal fees.

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From Pre-Med Student to Entertainment/IP Lawyer…?

As a first generation American, daughter of immigrants, my family’s three options for my future were “doctor, lawyer, or engineer”. There was no flexibility, nor was there any other option for me besides going to grad school.

Since my mom has been a constant source of inspiration, it was long assumed that I would follow in her footsteps, she was my hero. Nightly dinner table conversations of the complex surgeries she was part of left me in awe.

I ended up being pre-med for two years, shadowed an endless number of surgeons, and really thought medicine was what I wanted to pursue. At the time though, I had no idea what was ahead for me in law (cue IP).

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