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Trademark Filings Dip Slightly in 2015: Report

May 24, 2016, 11:39 AM

Trademark filings dipped slightly in 2015, but have for the most part remained steady over the last seven years, according to a report released on Monday.

The report, which is produced by data analytics company Lex Machina and draws on seven years worth of data from federal court dockets, says 3,532 trademark cases were filed in 2015, compared with 4,307 in 2014.

Brian Howard, a data scientist with Lex Machina, said most of the decrease this year can be attributed to a raft of about 450 trademark cases filed in the third quarter of 2014, in which former football players sued the National Football League, challenging the league’s use of their likeness.

“If you take out those 450 cases, the line is basically flat,” Howard said.

He added, “Trademark filings tend to stay steadier because you have to defend your trademark or you could lose it.”

[caption id="attachment_16789" align="alignleft” width="1306"][Image “Courtesy of Lex Machina” (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screenshot-2016-05-23-16.24.48.png)]Courtesy of Lex Machina[/caption]

Among the report’s other findings, the Central District ofCaliforniawas the most popular district for trademark filings over the last seven years, with 4,164 cases filed between 2009 and 2016.

The report also found that Chanel was awarded the most damages during this same period (nearly$1 billion), followed by Burberry Ltd. ($523 million), and Gucci ($208 million).

In terms of numbers of trademark filings, Coach was the leading plaintiff with 730 cases, followed by Chanel (330 cases) and Microsoft (203 cases).

Howard said that, while the top filers over the last seven years were the usual suspects — luxury brands like Chanel and Burberry with a lot of value in their names — if the data is limited to the past year, the list is topped by a couple of surprises: Sream, Inc., which owns a popular brand of water pipes, and Phoenix Entertainment Partners, which produces karaoke tracks.

Top defendants, according to the report, include Syngenta Seeds (184 cases), Big Bad Limo Service (109 cases), Amazon.com (66 cases), and Walmart (59 cases).

[caption id="attachment_16794" align="alignleft” width="1426"][Image “Courtesy of Lex Machina” (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screenshot-2016-05-23-16.26.31.png)]Courtesy of Lex Machina[/caption]

Jennifer Lee Taylor, a partner at Morrison Foerster who specializes in trademark litigation, suggested the steady stream of trademark filings overall masks rises and falls in different types of cases.

Taylor said counterfeiting cases, where a defendant has made a knock-off of a high-end product, like a Coach bag or a bottle of Chanel perfume, are on the rise.

“There’s been an explosion of counterfeits, primarily coming from Asia,” she said. “It’s really easy for those producers to reach consumers on the internet.”

But non-counterfeiting cases, traditionally more difficult vehicles for getting damages awards, seem to be on the decline after the Supreme Court’s decision in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., which raised the bar for getting an injunction in an intellectual property case, Taylor explained.

Initially a Stanford University public interest project started by Professor Mark Lemley, Lex Machina became a private company in 2010. Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, the company was acquired by Lexis Nexis in November .

Monday’s report is the company’s second annual trademark year in review study.

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