Shining a Light on Trademarks

Lighting can be visually distinctive, so it is not surprising that various service businesses have registered the exterior lighting of there premises as a services.


U.S. Reg. No. 3697306 protects “green lighting formed by four light fixtures placed in a symmetrical fashion near the entryway of the building” for hotel services — Holiday Inn.


3697305-1U.S. Reg. No.3697305 protects “blue lighting formed by four light fixtures placed in a symmetrical fashion near the entryway of the building” for hotel services — Holiday Inn Express.


U.S. Reg. No. 4594685 covers the three-dimensional configuration of a sidewalk canopy with lighting that creates “a red glowing effect” for hotel and motel services:



When Trademark Registration is a Nice Gesture

Representations of gestures can be trademarks.  For example Facebook’s Application No. 85020073 covers a depiction of a thumbs up gesture followed with the word “LIKE” in a rectangle:


However, Reg. No. 4735632 arguably covers a gesture itself (“The mark consists of a thumbs up hand gesture with the thumb having a face wearing a ninja mask.”):


There is precedent for gestures being a mark: Reg. No. 2520312 (now expired) covered the sign language symbols for the numbers 2520; Reg. No.  2643221 (also expired) covered the sign language symbol for C; Reg. Nos. 1350018 and 2028426 (also expired) covered the sign language symbols for H and D.

If 15 USC 1052(a)’s prohibition against the registration of “immoral, scandalous, or disparaging marks” is affirmed as unconstitutional, one has to wonder what kinds of “gestures” might be registered as trademarks and service marks.

Make IP Great Again

An interesting phenomenon is the use of trademarks to own current events.  Every major event seems to be followed by a series of trademarks applications by those who seek to claim ownership of history, or at least the tchotchkes of history.

It wasn’t surprising, then, that Donald Trump’s surprising run for the presidency, spawned a number of copycats trying to own a piece of the event.  Donald Trump filed his first application on MAKE AMERICAN GREAT on November 19, 2012, just two weeks after the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, lost to Barack Obama.

Since then, there have been nearly fifty applications filed on the MAKE ______ GREAT AGAIN format,  including applications on nearly identical marks: Serial No. 86765056 on MAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAIN for audio and video recordings; Serial No. 86958684 on MAKE AMERIKKKA GREAT AGAIN for on-line store services; Serial No. 86956810 on LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! for shirts; Serial No. 87062839 on MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN for patches; Serial Nos. 87231017 and 87231035 on MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN for beds and linens.

Then there are those that have capitalized on the phrase by adapting the slogan to their own purposes, such as: Serial No. 87016324 on MAKE OIL & GAS GREAT AGAIN; Serial No. 87054734 on MAKE MY BODY GREAT AGAIN; Serial No. 87042380 on MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA GREAT AGAIN; Serial No. 87234750 on MAKE OUR PRESIDENT GREAT AGAIN, and Serial No. 86754667 on MAKE YOUR HAIR GREAT AGAIN.

The trademark register is an overlooked resource tool for seeing what has caught America’s attention.  Whatever it is, someone will make a T-shirt or bumper sticker, and try to own it, by filing a trademark application.  Own a piece of history, just $225 per class.