STILLWATER, Minn. - Hammer-Schlagen, makers of a carpenters game played by competitive nailing by opposing teams, is expected to win U.S. Patent & Trademark Office recognition of its logo.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is expected to register WRB, Inc. of Minnesota as the sole owner of a specific three-dimensional configuration of shapes and designs, a rare type of trademark known as "trade dress."
A form of intellectual property, a trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the visual appearance of a brand or its packaging that signifies the source of the product or service to consumers.
Since 1957, the Hammer-Schlagen brand of entertainment service has been identified by a cross-peen hammer and nails positioned in wood. After over two years of prosecution, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office acknowledged the Hammer-Schlagen trade dress as a valid trademark eligible for registration.
The trade dress is already protected as a trademark under federal law, but the registration will provide public notice that only WRB is allowed to use the Hammer-Schlagen trade dress.
In 2016, WRB filed suit against Vision Marketing, LLC, of Washington for (in part) counterfeiting the trade dress, which settled earlier this year. This was followed by Eichenfeld, LLC of New York taking action in 2017 to prevent registration, but the court dismissed the suit in July 2018 due to Eichenfled's failure to produce any evidence the trade dress was invalid.
Of the nearly 2.4 million actively registered trademarks, only 29 are described on the principal register as a servicemark trade dress. Since acquiring the brand 20-years ago, WRB has offered its Hammer-Schlagen service at hundreds of events each year. WRB’s CEO, Jim Martin, became involved in 1999 and has been educating the public about trade dress ever since.
"The fact that trade dress is not generally understood is a problem. It's a vital part of the relationship had between consumers and companies,” says Martin. “It's important to understand what constitutes trade dress because it's fundamental to the ability of consumers to make healthy buying choices."
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