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Trademark Tidbits: Mister Softee and Super Duck

Homehead2 Mister Softee is back. We're not talking about the summer return of the ice cream truck to neighborhood streets, but the brand owner's return to federal court. Back in 2005, the New York Times reported on Mister Softee's legal efforts to protect its trademark from being ripped-off by look-alike ice cream vendors. At the time, the company's lawyers were gathering evidence for lawsuits to be filed in New York and elsewhere. Now, Marty Schwimmer at The Trademark Blog reports that Mister Softee filed suit this week in federal court in Manhattan against a number of defendants.

If that news leaves you thinking, "That's just ducky!" then you've got the wrong case. You want Boston Duck Tours v. Super Duck Tours, wherein the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that just because it quacks like a duck, that doesn't mean it violates trademark law. The court lifted the preliminary injunction in a trademark suit brought by one of Boston's ubiquitous duck tour operators against another over its name and a logo showing a duck splashing in water. The trial court erred in finding that the phrase "duck tour" was non-generic, the 1st Circuit concluded. The Boston Globe has more.

For a decidedly non-generic use of Boston's duck boats this week, see here.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 20, 2008 at 08:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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