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‘Lettuce Turnip the Beet’ Case Features Dueling Trademark Axioms

Jan. 28, 2021, 4:54 PM

A Ninth Circuit ruling that LTTB LLC’s registered “Lettuce Turnip the Beet” T-shirt trademark doesn’t allow it to block use of the phrase on T-shirts highlights the question of what makes a trademark visually appealing enough to be functional.

Consumers bought shirts from other vendors featuring the triple pun from Redbubble Inc. because of the pun, not because they thought LTTB made them, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said in a Jan. 20 decision.

The court weighed a tension between two fundamental drivers of trademark law: the exclusivity of a registration owner, and consumer perception of ...

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