Successful companies rely on the power of their trademarks and brands to communicate the quality and distinctiveness of their products and services. Trademarks are often some of the most valuable assets of a company. Infringement or dilution of a mark can cost millions in revenue and goodwill. With our proven track record in high-profile litigation and noncontentious matters, in-house counsel and other leading trademark practitioners consistently look to Finnegan to handle their most complex, high-stakes trademark matters.
Finnegan’s trademark practice is renowned for its experience, sophistication, creativity, and depth. Our practice includes an enviable core of experienced trademark attorneys, legal assistants, and staff professionals, including portfolio managers and in-house investigators. Our extensive experience with virtually every type of product and service and every facet of trademark protection helps us advise clients on the best path to protect, advocate, and leverage valuable intellectual property (IP) assets.
We follow the life of a mark from selection, clearance, prosecution, and maintenance to portfolio management, trademark audits, licensing, watch services, disputes, and litigation. The scope of our practice offers great flexibility. Our client base is diverse and global, encompassing small and large companies and organizations from a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, financial services, publishing, the Internet, entertainment, sports and fitness, computers and telecommunications, consumer products, automotive, and manufacturing. For many clients, we provide a full range of trademark services, while others seek our assistance for some of these categories on a project-by-project basis.
Trademark counseling and prosecution
Finnegan’s experience in preparing trademark opinions and in filing, prosecuting, and maintaining both U.S. and foreign trademark applications and registrations is clearly demonstrated by the number of trademark matters we handle. During a typical year, we provide thousands of trademark clearance opinions. We are currently responsible for more than 25,000 trademark applications and registrations (U.S. and foreign), and we regularly manage large trademark portfolios, including portfolios totaling more than 10,000 registrations/applications covering over 200 countries.
Before adopting a trademark, we advise clients on strategies for selecting “strong” marks that are immediately protectable and registrable. If a client prefers to use a term or mark descriptively, we can advise on how to use the term to place the client in the best possible position should it be challenged. Our counseling during the early phases of trademark development helps avoid costly conflicts or enforcement problems down the road.
Once a mark is selected, we conduct availability searches and render clear, practical opinions. We carefully evaluate each search request to ascertain the goods or services to search, the type of search to order, and whether to search any supplemental sources. Moreover, our opinions are not based solely on the search results as they appear in the search report. We investigate relevant marks and names to determine if they are in use and, if so, the nature and extent of any rights their owners may possess. Our extensive litigation experience allows us to provide realistic opinions on a mark’s availability, as well as practical recommendations on using and registering the mark to avoid or minimize potential problems.
For Finnegan, trademark filings are not simply routine administrative matters—we work to develop an appropriate strategy regarding the form of the mark and how broadly or narrowly to describe goods or services. We take into account the search results and possible disputes down the road. We also consider future plans for the mark to make sure all relevant goods or services are covered by the application. In prosecuting applications, we provide practical advice on the best and most efficient ways to respond to refusals.
As with U.S. prosecution, Finnegan does not treat foreign trademark filings as routine administrative matters. Rather, we look at the nature of the mark, the U.S. application, U.S. or foreign search results, and potential disputes, and discuss future plans for the mark with the client. We can then develop appropriate foreign filing strategies in terms of the form of the mark and the scope of the goods or services.
We have nurtured a network of trademark lawyers and agents around the world to assist with foreign trademark filings. We select foreign counsel based on their ability to provide the high level of service our clients expect. If a client prefers to maintain its existing relationship with a firm, we are happy to comply. Upon receipt of a communication from foreign counsel, we report the matter to the client along with a suggested strategy. We carefully review the counsel’s recommendations and work out a response or opposition strategy that is persuasive. We also look at whether a strategy comports with that taken in other countries and, if not, whether a departure from prior practice is warranted and the impact of doing so. We have extensive experience with international clearance projects. We present search results in organized and streamlined formats that are easy to understand, contain concise summaries, and include specific advice on recommended actions. In particular, we provide practical guidance and risk analysis, because many foreign counsel are highly conservative and identify numerous “problematic” marks. We analyze the “problematic” marks and separate them into categories of real problems and potential problems. We further recommend precise steps to take to address any potential problems (e.g., negotiate consent agreements, acquire rights).
Our counseling services often begin at a trademark’s inception with proactive advice during the selection and prosecution process to help avoid or minimize the chances of litigation. But when problems arise and valuable trademark rights are at stake or an accusation has been made, we believe it pays to have seasoned litigators on your side. We have handled cases that span numerous industries and implicate all types of trademark rights. Representing both plaintiffs and defendants, our lawyers have decades of experience litigating both large and small trademark cases before courts throughout the country. We regularly appear before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and its Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), federal circuit courts of appeal, district courts, and other tribunals.
Our vast litigation experience makes our attorneys well versed in the best ways to approach cases, whether large or small, complex or straightforward. We assess the potential risks and rewards of disputes and provide creative solutions for clients of all sizes.
Infringement and dilution
Our litigation practice covers all types of trademark infringement and dilution cases involving trademarks, service marks, trade dress, product configuration, trade names, domain names, letters, numbers, colors, and telephone numbers. We have an impressive track record of favorably resolving litigations for our clients, whether by choosing a forum that gives clients the best chance to win on the law, filing a motion to dismiss, obtaining an early temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, positioning a case for settlement, moving for summary judgment, or taking the case to trial. One of our strengths is the use of experts to enhance our clients’ legal positions. We work with numerous consumer survey experts on a wide range of issues in trademark litigation, including likelihood of confusion, likelihood of dilution, genericness, secondary meaning, and fame. We also make strategic use of other experts in areas such as linguistics, marketing, consumer psychology, industry practices, and damages.
Domain name litigation and UDRPs
We have developed an international reputation as a leading expert in the field of domain names. We have handled more than 75 civil litigations in the United States involving domain names spanning industries such as food and beverages, hospitality, computer and electronics, and media and entertainment.
Our lawyers handle hundreds of domain name disputes each year and have filed or defended more than 500 complaints under ICANN’s Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for more than 100 different clients. We have addressed a wide variety of factual scenarios and issues with these complaints. Finnegan’s experience stretches well beyond the United States. We have coordinated or assisted with litigation involving generic top-level domains and country-code top-level domains in many foreign countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Uruguay. Because of the pervasive nature and extent of cybersquatting and infringement activity on the Internet, we have advised clients on developing domain name registration strategies to help avoid or minimize more costly enforcement work down the road. We also help clients manage and set priorities for enforcement efforts by developing specific guidelines and strategies.
Counterfeiting and gray-market goods are growing at an alarming rate, resulting in industry losses of billions of dollars annually. When our clients’ trademarks are challenged in these ways, we act swiftly against both manufacturers and distributors to stop the flow of counterfeit and gray-market goods. We regularly appear in courts across the United States and have successfully obtained emergency injunctive relief for our clients, including ex parte seizures, temporary restraining orders, and preliminary injunctions. Our international presence allows us to implement global brand protection programs quickly and effectively.
TTAB proceedings are much like civil litigation, including initial, expert, and pretrial disclosures. Finnegan has a wealth of experience in civil litigation and we have had a substantial practice before the TTAB for decades, typically filing or defending as many as 200 new U.S. oppositions and cancellations each year. We have approximately 300 to 400 active U.S. oppositions and cancellations at any time. Many of our trademark attorneys have extensive expertise in handling opposition and cancellation proceedings before the TTAB.
We treat each opposition and cancellation as a unique matter. We look at the claims and defenses and the relevant evidence in view of our client’s goals, resources, and the merits of the case. We then formulate a plan to best achieve a client’s goals, whether by settlement or trying the case. In particular, we develop an early discovery plan for each case. We often recommend minimal, targeted discovery and sometimes no discovery at all. In cases where we represent the plaintiff, we create overall strategies, taking into consideration the nature and extent of the opponent’s use (if any) of the challenged mark.
Our rankings tell part of the story
Over the years, we have been honored by our peers and in-house counsel. Our most recent rankings include:
"Law Firm of the Year—Trademark," 2019 (U.S. News—Best Lawyers Best Law Firms)
U.S. Trade Mark Contentious Firm of the Year, 2018 (Managing Intellectual Property Americas IP Awards)
U.S. Specialty IP Firm of the Year, 2016, 2018 (Managing Intellectual Property Americas IP Awards)
D.C. Intellectual Property Litigation Department of the Year, 2018 (National Law Journal)
Practice Group of the Year for Intellectual Property, 2017 (Law360)
Global IP Firm of the Year, 2016 (Managing Intellectual Property Global IP Awards)
U.S. IP Firm of the Decade, 2015 (Managing Intellectual Property North American IP Awards)
First-Tier National Ranking for Trademark Law, 2013-2020 (U.S. News - Best Lawyers Best Law Firms)
First-Tier National Ranking for Intellectual Property Law, 2010-2020 (U.S. News - Best Lawyers Best Law Firms)
#1 or #2 Band U.S. Law Firm for Intellectual Property, 2007-2017 (Chambers USA)
Top Tier U.S. Law Firm for Trademark Contentious and Prosecution Work, 2008-2019 (Managing Intellectual Property’s World IP Survey)
#1 Tier Law Firm for Trademark Work in the DC-Metro Area, 2011-2020 (World Trademark Review, WTR 1000)
#1 or #2 Tier Law Firm for Trademark Work in the United States, 2011-2020 (World Trademark Review, WTR 1000)
#1 or #2 Tier Law Firm for Trademark Litigation and Non-Contentious Work, 2008-2020 (The Legal 500 U.S.)
We handle all types of trademark infringement and dilution cases involving trademarks, service marks, trade dress, product configuration, trade names, domain names, letters, numbers, colors, and telephone numbers.
Obtained preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and damages in high-profile infringement in China. The Supreme People’s Court, the highest court in China, affirmed the decision, securing a complete win for Under Armour.
People’s Higher Court of Fujian Province of the People’s Republic of China
Secured a victory on summary judgment for Dean Guitars and the Estate of Dimebag Darrell Abbott in a hotly-contested copyright infringement and unfair competition case, with multiple Lanham Act, invasion of privacy, and state law claims. The case involved one of the world’s most popular heavy metal guitarists—Darrell Abbott of the band Pantera—and a lightning bolt graphic on his “Dean from Hell” guitar, which for decades has been an inseparable part of Abbott’s persona and likeness. The 11th Circuit affirmed the ruling.
After a full trial before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, on an appeal from a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) case, obtained a ruling that the parties’ VAGISIL and VAGISAN marks conflict and that “VAGISIL is a famous mark that has attained substantial commercial strength.”