Archive | January 2016

Give Me A Break: Nestlé loses Trademark battle for the ‘four fingered’ shape

kitkat4.4_2Many consumers have come to know Kit Kat bars for their unbelievable crunch and design of the four bars with breakable ridges that let you enjoy each piece separately or to share with a friend. The ‘four fingered’ candy bar design has been deployed since 1935 when it was sold in Britain by Rowntree & Co. At that time, the bar was called Chocolate Crisp. Since, Nestlé has turned the design into a recognizable shape that is known by many people, both old and young. Nestlé purchased Rowntree & Co in 1998.

In 2010 Nestlé filed for the trademark of the four-fingered design but met opposition from rival chocolatier and candy maker Cadbury who opposed the trademark in fear of Nestle having a monopoly. The two chocolate makers have had previous battles in the past as Nestlé prevented Cadbury for using a particular shade of purple used in the packaging of Dairy Milk. Nestlé’s application was initially granted, however, Cadbury challenged and the case was removed to the High Court and the CJEU in Britain where the ‘four fingered’ shape was put through further scrutiny.

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Nestle has had success in the past with trademarking shapes of their chocolate. They have successfully trademarked the shape of their Walnut Whip. However, this time they were not as fortunate as the trademark for the ‘four fingered’ shape was denied. The European court of justice ruled that the KitKat’s shape was not distinctive enough for consumers to associate it with the chocolate covered wafer.

In Mr. Justice Arnold’s written opinion he ruled that consumers relied on the name of KitKat and the pictorial marks used in relation to the goods. He said, “they associate the shape with KitKat (and therefore with Nestlé), but no more than that.” He went on to rule that Nestlé had not demonstrated that consumers have come to rely on the shape mark in order to distinguish the trade source of the goods at issues.

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Sharon Daboul, a trademark attorney at law firm EIP who was not involved in the case, said “The question is whether a consumer would look at the four-finger chocolate bar and straight away know it was a KitKat, without the logo or wrapper. Consumers will tend to be influenced by a brand name and the outer packaging of a product rather than its shape alone, so the threshold for registering shapes as trademarks is high.”

Nestlé is appealing the decision.

Sources:

http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/20/news/kit-kat-trademark-nestle-cadbury/

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/20/kitkat-nestle-loses-high-court-bid-trademark-shape

http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/09/19/european-court-denies-nestle-four-fingered-kitkat-trademark-after-cadbury-objection/id=61694/

The LA Rams: Football Back in the City of Angels

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Football is finally returning to the City of Angels. It feels overdue, as Los Angeles has not been home to professional football in over 20 years. The LA football vacancy has remained since 1994 when the Rams and Raiders moved from the city after the conclusion of the 1994 season. Since 1994 a series of teams have threatened to move to LA whenever they were attempting to create leverage for a new stadium. Some franchises made proposals to be moved to Los Angeles. All of the proposals failed.

Things changed when Rams owner Stan Kroenke bought 60 acres of land next to the former Hollywood Park racetrack and a year later in 2015 revealed plans to build a stadium. What set Kroenke’s plan apart from past proposals was a crucial fact: He already owned a team that could be moved. The owners granted the St. Louis Rams, along with the San Diego Chargers, the opportunity to relocate

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The NFL created a committee of six owners to evaluate stadium options in L.A. and any possible relocation. NFL owners met repeatedly to hear presentations on the two L.A. projects as well as those in the three home markets trying to keep their teams.

San Diego and St. Louis eventually assembled stadium proposals that included hundreds of millions of dollars in public financing, although San Diego’s hinged on a public vote later this year. Though Oakland city officials said they wanted to keep the Raiders, they did not offer the team any financial incentives or formal plan.

The owners to move back to LA and that the Chargers have the option to join as a 2nd team in the LA market voted the Rams on. COO Kevin Demoff confirmed several other details of the move, saying the Rams would play the upcoming season downtown at the Coliseum, their home from 1946 to ’79. They’ll start selling tickets Monday at prices comparable to last year’s rates in St. Louis.

The Rams will be returning along with addition of a billion dollar facility that will be funded by the Rams organization. The stadium will be located Inglewood. The Rams organization believes that the owner’s committee was persuaded by the potential of having a new stadium already on purchased land. Furthermore, the Rams organization believes the stadium can bring more events to the LA region including a College Basketball Final Four and the Olympics.

The move is an exciting one and the players should relish the fact that they now get to work in one of the biggest markets in all of the country. A move like this will change the public perception of the Rams organization as they have been losing on the field as of late. This move opens up multiple avenues for PR and possible endorsements for players as they will be on television a lot more often.

On the field the LA Rams will be bringing a stout defense led by D-Lineman Arron Donald and an offense that will heavily deploy star rookie Running Back Todd Gurley. Jeff Fisher, who happens to be a California native, coaches the team. He made a statement to the press that he is excited for the new direction of the organization but that he feels for the St. Louis Rams fans that have been supportive in the teams down years and the years they won one Superbowl with back-to-back  appearances in the big game.

The San Diego Chargers have the choice to join the Rams in the move to LA. The Chargers have been in embroiled in a public battle with the city for a new stadium and have been using the move to LA without much success. A move from them would seem like a logic choice that LA is a big enough market to support 2 NFL franchises similar to the way that the Southern California area hosts 2 teams in the other major sports.

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/14578437/stan-kroenke-emotional-discussing-rams-move-los-angeles

http://www.latimes.com/sports/nfl/la-sp-nfl-la-tick-tock-20160117-story.html

Update: The San Diego Chargers have come to an agreement with the Rams to join them in the same stadium if they take the NFL up on the option to move to Los Angeles. This would place two NFL teams in one of the top media markets in the country.

The Talking Dead: Former “Walking Dead” Director, Writer, and Producer Calls Out Exec’s In Released Deposition

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) - The Walking Dead - Season 4 _ Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Frank Darabont, former director, writer, and executive producer of AMC’s hit TV series the “Walking Dead” is claiming that the channel was cutting the budget of the show, pocketing tax credits, and only coming to the set for short stints of time before “going back to their air conditioned New York Offices.” In the recently released deposition Darabont held nothing back as he continued to slam the network for not receiving his “fully vested” stake in the profits from AMC’s mega-hit.

Darabont and his CAA agents have been in litigation for years with AMC as Darabont has been seeking portions of the shows profits as well as profits of the TWD spin-off “Fear the Walking Dead.” Darabont’s original claims where also for breach of contract and wrongful termination. AMC claims that Darabont has been rightfully compensated for his participation in the 1st and 2nd seasons of the show.

Over the course of the litigation the battle has gotten messy at certain points, even bringing in other AMC hit shows into the fold. The plaintiffs were successful in their discovery motions to look into other licensing agreements from other AMC hit shows Mad Men and Breaking Bad as the plaintiffs claim that AMC treats shows from 3rd party studios more favorably when it comes to licensing and distributing. Of the three shows TWD is created by AMC studios. The plaintiffs claim that AMC engaged in “self-dealing” to foster artificially low license fees for TWD to get out of contractually obligated profit payments.

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(Frank Darabont: Ex-Director, Writer, and Executive Producer of the Walking Dead TV Series)

The litigation has seen amended complaints and now the unreleased deposition is a new headline in this heated battle between ex-director and the network. Darabont, a writer on The Shawshank Redemption, was canned from TWD after its first season and during production of the second season. Darabont was an integral part in bringing the adapted comic from the pages to the small screen. TWD has been AMC’s flagship show after it received the highest debut of any network show in history and continues to be a leader in ratings in its time slot and overall out of any show not only currently on tv, but in the history of tv. Other claims from Darabont in the deposition include mistreatment of the staff and crew as they work hard in the sticky Atlanta (where the show is filmed) weather as the execs pocket the tax rights from filming in Georgia.

For now it seems like the lengthy litigation will continue to commence. The Walking Dead is now in its sixth season While ratings have dipped somewhat, it has still held firm to its core fanbase and remains to be a hit on tv, pop culture, and the comic following. TWD has also expanded into a successful franchise as it has also birthed a series of successful episodic video games that have been critically acclaimed.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/walking-dead-creator-frank-darabonts-852491

‘Walking Dead’ Lawsuit: Frank Darabont & CAA Bite AMC Back Over Contract Claims

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/frank-darabonts-walking-dead-lawsuit-718276