Candy Trademarks-How sweet it is to be loved by USPTO

Halloween is just around the corner. I’m considering buying candy for both trick-or-treaters and myself. Shhh. Don’t tell my dentist. Many know that candy brands and logos can be trademarked, but most don’t realize that candy shapes can as well.

A shape (such as the candy examples below) would be registered as ‘Trade Dress.” Similar to other types of trademarks, trade dress can be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and receive protection from the federal courts.

To receive protection, both of the following must be true:

  • The trade dress must be inherently distinctive, unless it has acquired secondary meaning.
  • The junior use must cause a likelihood of consumer confusion.

Protecting product shapes for various products like other IP issues, has caused some argument. Many believe that one should not be able to protect the shape of an item or should automatically allow others to utilize it. See these examples regarding Hershey’s chocolate bar segments:

And this dispute over the kitkat bar shape. Nestle and Cadbury both asked the court to “give me a break”-get it?


Here are some examples of trademarks of shapes for candies that we know and love and links to their USPTO information.




Jewel Shape of Ring Pop


This interesting article explains that even though the Topps Company, the makers of Ring Pops had two patents expire and they were able to still keep their

Pez Candy Brick


Tootsie Roll’s Twisted Wrapper




Hershey Kisses


Tootsie Pop


Ok now I want candy! Yes, plenty of candy of various types!

From trade mark dress applications like the ones mentioned above to design and utility patents, Mohr IP Law offers bins of delicious opportunities. And, because we prefer to give treats than tricks we would love to offer you a no-cost 30-minute attorney consultation. Contact us today!

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The History of Football

As I grab my chips and dip to watch election coverage, political debates, and candidate interviews, a large portion of America is getting their favorite chairs and beer cozies ready for their love-football season. I couldn’t let autumn go by without looking into the history of football. Hopefully this blog is a touch down—well and hopefully my attempt at wit doesn’t land outside of the sidelines.

American Football is derived from the games of rugby and soccer. A form of football was played around 1823 in at the Rugby School in England. Essentially then, American football, soccer, and rugby all started as the same sport.

During soccer games at The Rugby School (not sure if it’s the soccer we now know or why soccer was being played at the Rugby school), student William Ebb Ellis frequently picked up the ball ran with ball in hand. This action broke the conventional rules of the game and possibly caused fans to ask, “Why don’t we just change the rules and have everyone carry the ball?”

I’m reminded of the Seinfeld phrase, “yada, yada, yada.” Essentially numerous parties played rugby, soccer, and football but only with some variation to previous rules. It wasn’t a whole new game with new rules.

Walter Camp not only played football, he was a coach, a worker at a clock company, a sports article writer, and a book writer (wrote 30 books and more than 250 magazine articles by the time of his death). By 1892 his involvement with football organizations, team wins, coaching techniques, and rule changes garnered him the nickname “Father of American Football.”

Most notably, he is credited with making the following new rules/alterations to existing rules to the game which keep referees everywhere busy and remind us how great video camera replays are.  These include but are not limited to:

the line of scrimmage, one side retained undisputed possession of the ball, until that side gives up the ball as a result of its own violations, 11 on a team instead of 15, creation of the quarter-back and center positions, the forward pass, the standardized the scoring system, numerical scoring, the creation of the safety, interference, penalties, and the neutral zone, tackling as low as the knee was permitted (1888), the touchdown increased in value to six points and field goals went down to three points (1912) From:

The rules become more succinct and the game became more popular. By 1920 various football organizations existed, some more successful than others. The American Professional Football Association (APFA) was one of these associations. It decided two years later in 1922 that the National Football League (NFL) was a lot easier to remember while drunk (I embellished that part a bit).

Like every great American story we can’t forget that things were done before our time. Cleopatra for example may be asking, “What does this glass ceiling in this American presidential race mean?”

It is possible that football may have not been an American/England thing. This great Wikipedia article details various games all over the world that look exactly like football (at least to me). One of my favorites is “Mob Football” which is pictured below. Let’s hope their half time involved nachos and not bandaging stab wounds.


At Mohr IP Law we catch the ball and carry it. We don’t fumble. Our team huddles to come up with the best plays for your intellectual property protection needs. And ultimately, we will join you in your end zone dance.

My football knowledge is a work in progress and I’ve learned a lot, but for now I’ll stick to playing Nerf Football on the field while watching Mob Football (the presidential race) on the TV.

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Drinking Coffee-A Daily Office Action

After recently writing a blog about beer, I thought it was appropriate and timely to write about the history of coffee, another highly desired beverage. Coffee shops and coffee are literally everywhere all over America and it is estimated that 100 million people in America drink coffee on a daily basis. I’ve seen on one square block a coffee kiosk, a coffee shop, a grocery store with a coffee shop, and then another coffee shop right across the street (4 places in one block). If you’re like me, your body treats the first few cups of coffee like air or water and the next few as the upper/motivator/functioning juice.

It is believed that coffee dates back all the way to the 15th century in the Shrines of Yemen (an Arab country in eastern Asia). It is believed that “…coffee seeds were first exported from Eastern Africa to Yemen, as the coffee plant is thought to have been indigenous to the former. Yemeni traders took coffee back to their homeland and began to cultivate the seed. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. From there, it spread to Europe and the rest of the world.”

Coffee was extremely popular in Europe far before it was popular in America and that is seen by not just the way we choose to name our coffees but by brewing techniques. “In the 19th century, coffee was a huge business in Europe with cafes flourishing across the continent. But coffee brewing was a slow process and, as is still the case today, customers often had to wait for their brew.”

Inventor Angelo Moriondo of Italy was like, “Come on. You yelled wrote my name out on my cup as ‘Angel Moron do’ and you took forever to make my latte.” Not really, but he was granted a patent in 1884 for a “Coffee Making Machine.” This essentially was a two broiler system that first pushed water through coffee grounds and then produced steam which spread over the liquid to complete the process. His invention was the first to use both water and steam and was created for the Turin General Exposition (I believe a fancy science fair).

Unfortunately, Moriondo’s patent didn’t lead to a huge product base or business. Instead two men, Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni made several coffee machines and secured several patents that were essentially better than Moriondo’s but were also different-they were for individual or small family use (not extremely large bulky machines). In 1901, Luigi Bezerra invented the “Tipo Gigante” which was known as the first espresso machine. “Legend has it; the initial reason for Luigi creating the espresso machine was to reduce the amount of time that his employees spent on their coffee break.”

In 1905, 4 years after Berzerra’s first espresso machine was made, Desiderio Pavoni decided that he didn’t like the flavor that came from Bezerra’s machine. It was too bitter and felt the bitterness came from the steam and from there being too high of temperatures for the coffee grounds. He bought Bezerra’s patent and decided that coffee taste perfection was required and that he would do what it took to get there. “Desiderio’s solution; perfection in a cup requires one to brew the coffee at 195 degrees and 9 BAR pressure. His moment of brilliance sets the gold standard for all espresso machines to this very day.” Note: The maker/writer of this coffee timeline also highlights decaf and instant coffee but I’m going to leave that out for time and other reasons.

The world of coffee and related patents won’t stop and can’t stop like Miley Cyrus or my caffeine addiction. Patents of coffee related devices aren’t merely limited to espresso machines and coffee makers. Here are some other coffee inventions/processes that are extra hot, historically:

Infusion Brewing- putting ground coffee in a linen bag; popular in France starting in 1710; The biggin, originating in France ca. 1780, was a two-level pot holding coffee in a cloth sock in an upper compartment into which water was poured, to drain through holes in the bottom of the compartment into the coffee pot below. Let’s hope that sock was clean.

Vacuum Brewing-heating water in a lower vessel until expansion forced the contents through a narrow tube into an upper vessel containing ground coffee. When the lower vessel was empty and sufficient brewing time had elapsed, the heat was removed and the resulting vacuum would draw the brewed coffee back through a strainer into the lower chamber, from which it could be decanted. Id.

The Percolator (Early version patented by James Nason of US in 1865, modern version we know patented in 1889 by Hanson Goodrich) “Goodrich’s patent description varies little from the stovetop percolators sold today. With the percolator design, water is heated in a boiling pot with a removable lid, until the heated water is forced through a metal tube into a brew basket containing coffee. Id.

The French Press: (Patented by Italian designer Attilio Calimani in 1929) Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, stirring it and leaving to brew for a few minutes, then pressing the plunger to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the beaker. Id.

The Moka Pot: (Patented by Luigi De Ponti in 1933). The moka pot is a stove-top coffee maker which produces coffee by passing hot water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. Id.

Drip brewing, filtered coffee, and/or Pour-Overs: (Paper Coffee Filters invented in Germany by Melitta Bentz in 1908, First electric drip brewer patented in Germany in 1954 by Gottlib Widmann).  Drip brew coffee makers replaced the coffee percolator in the 1970s due to the percolators’ tendency to over-extract coffee, thereby making it bitter.

Then as you know drip brew electrical coffee makers became popular everywhere. There were simple ones for coffee shops (that are still used today at a Denny’s near you) and home coffee makers that promise various features (coffee or espressos, a little steam nozzle that breaks after the 4th use, and so on). Transition to today where coffee pod machines (Keurig, ie.) have taken over the world. However, they have not clouded the desire for true baristas to make coffee the old way. The only pod they want is not coffee related, but instead a description of the size of their living space. I’m personally very pleased there are now a variety of ways to order your coffee (both old and new).

At Mohr IP, we not only have clients who have utilized our services for their coffee-related intellectual property, our conference room is well stocked with various types of coffee pods for our single-serve machine. Decaf, tea, and water are also an option. Caffeine energizes us, but so do clients who have exciting new ideas. Make your 30-minute no cost consultation appointment today.


Pictures shown below: First Espresso Machine Patents, Picture of Melitta Bentz-inventor of coffee filter)

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Fall Forrest of Beers

Fall is not just a time for pumpkins, crisp air, and fall colored-leaves. It’s a time for beer. Whether you like a traditional year-long beer like an IPA or Lager or seasonal “pumpkin ales” of sorts, beer is a big part of Portland, especially during this time of the year.

Alcohol is nothing new. Based on a Sumerian poem honoring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing (yes she’s real), beer may be over 3900 years old. In a poem found in Mesopotamia/Ancient Iraq, there is a recipe instructing others how to make beer from barley.

Some historians argue that beer may even be 7,000 years old as ancient pottery has traces of yeast-like substances. Regardless of when beer was first invented, it has no doubt maintained its popularity throughout the ages. Thus, it is no surprise that many sites and publications like Discover Magazine offer great beer facts. I randomly picked two I found to be extremely interesting:

-Beer (in part because it contains antimicrobial ethanol) was a healthier drink than polluted Nile river water. 

-Experimenting with beer has taken many forms. John Lubbock, an 18th-century naturalist, studied the behavior of beer-boozy ants.

How is all of this relevant to Intellectual Property you ask? Well, hundreds of thousands of beer related inventions and patents have brought beer to where it is now (in addition to being in a glass in our hand)

For example, Louis Pasteur wasn’t just great at helping us with our milk. In 1873, he was awarded a patent Called “Improvement in brewing beer and ale” Mr. Pasteur realized that even if beer was made correctly and not exposed to a lot of air during the brewing process, when it was transported exposure to too much atmospheric air made the beer have a lower quality. As a result he designed special tanks that had tubes inside that could spray water on the insular tank to keep the beer at the right air pressure (from what I gather from reading the patent).

His invention’s goal (which was accomplished) enabled the beer to be brewed “all seasons and in most any climate successfully, [and] the product [to be[ more aromatic and… perfectly limpid.”

Thousands of patents for beer barrels have existed over the years. One of them that changed things a little bit is the “Metal Container”. In an effort to reduce barrel cracking and various other pressure challenges, inventor William E. Coakley set out to provide a receptacle that which would be “simple, compact, and well balanced in construction [while being] rugged and durable.” It seems Mr. Coakley did a good job as we see metal barrels/kegs being thrown down from truck carriers and rolled into bars and restaurants on the daily.

Sometimes a draught beer or bottle is not available and the beer is quickly available in a pop top can. The Beer Can (granted in 1939) was patented by Wark Samuel Arnold and Alfred C. Torem in 1939. This beer can design added an outer disk to the opening to overlap the hole covering. This way if the covering inside became lose bill wouldn’t spill all over the place. “Thus sealed, whether by reliance wholly upon the internal pressure or by the application of the sealing substance 6, the disk 5 is not readily displaced by accident, but it can be displaced by inwardly directed pressure of a .thumb through the aperture upon the disk, in the manner illustrated in Figure 3.” The Pabst Brewing Company most likely solutes you Mr. Arnold and Mr. Torem.

As mentioned thousands of beer related patents exist. When you are enjoying your beer and brats remember to cheers the inventors of beer related inventions then and now. At Mohr IP Law, our team enjoys a beer or two—but work comes before drinking- unless a client has a beer related invention that requires using actual beer to demonstrate its utility.




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Happy Birthday-The gift of copyrights

A very special attorney at our firm has a birthday this upcoming week. It’s a good thing we won’t be infringing on someone’s intellectual property when we sing him “Happy Birthday to You.” Over the course of the last few years, you may have heard about this unique fight-the birthday song we all know and love was wrought with litigation. You look like a monkey and you stole my intellectual property too?

“Happy Birthday to You” also known as “Happy Birthday” was written by Patty Hill, a kindergarten principal in Louisville, Kentucky. Her sister Mildred and she used the melody of “Good Morning to All” with their new lyrics. It is believed that these sisters (who sound drink sweet tea or lemonade on the porch and bake peach cobbler lovely) wrote the lyrics around 1893. The lyrics made made their first written appearance in 1912.

“The brief recap is that although the music and lyrics to “Good Morning” have a clear copyrightable moment in 1893, the same music coupled with the “Happy Birthday” words does not. The lawsuit notes the appearance in print in the early 1900s in various sources of alternate words, but without being authorized specifically by the Hills—who ostensibly retained copyright to “Good Morning,” not the Song Stories publisher—that doesn’t necessarily diminish their claim.”

In July 2015, a filmmaker making a film about the history of the song claimed to have proof that the song should be public domain (instead of the company Warner/Chappell who had been claiming ownership of the song). The filmmaker explained that in 1934 a new Irving Berlin musical on Broadway called As Thousands Cheer featured a birthday scene in which “the birthday song, without the “Good Morning” verse [was performed]. As TIME reported in 1934, while the case was still ongoing, the producer of As Thousands Cheer was sued for plagiarism, to the tune of $250 in payment per performance. Though Patty Hill said that she had “long ago resigned herself to the fact that her ditty had become common property of the nation,” those who had paid to use the tune in the past—like Fox, which had used it in Baby Take a Bow, a Shirley Temple film released that same year—didn’t feel so easygoing about it, and neither did Hill’s family.”

Because this is a blog, you get the condensed version. Long story short, in 1935 the Hills decided to officially register the copyright of the birthday specific lyrics and were successful doing so. Because the Irving musical was popular, the song spread. The challenging part regarding intellectual property is that the song even early on had various versions, piano and other instrument accompaniments, verse re-writes, verse additions, and so on.

After 80 years, the Happy Birthday song has been freed. Before this year, Warner/Chappell was earning $2 million a year by licensing the song mostly for commercial use (not charging restaurants or birthday party attendees). “On February 8, 2016, Warner/Chappell agreed to pay a settlement of $14 million to those who had licensed the song…on June 28, 2016, the final settlement was officially granted.

I’m sure you’ve never used the song for commercial use or planned on it. Regardless, now you know that while singing the song, you don’t have to worry about an attorney or the ghost of Patty Hill lurking over your shoulder.

At Mohr IP Law we do patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Instead of receiving a scratchy sweater from Grandma, maybe you can ask her and your other loved ones for the gift of intellectual property protection-the gift that keeps on giving. If you’re lucky our team will also sing you a song.

Condensed Timeline from:


Louisville, Ky., sisters Mildred J. and Patty Smith Hill publish the song “Good Morning To All” and assign copyright to the publisher.


The producer of the Irving Berlin musical revue “As Thousands Cheer” sue for plagiarism when the song’s melody is used in a scene. The lawsuit is eventually settled.


The Clayton F. Summy Co. files for the copyright.


Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to President John F. Kennedy at a celebration of his 45th birthday.


The successor to the Summy Co., the Birch Tree Group, is purchased by Warner Music for $15 million, and through that acquires the rights to “Happy Birthday.”


Los Angeles Judge George H. King rules that the Summy Co. never acquired a valid copyright to the song, and that the 1935 copyright covered only specific piano arrangements of the tune.



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An Intellectual Property Movie Night

Doesn’t an IP Law Movie Night sound fun? I think so. I decided to compile a list of movies that are not just entertaining, but that touch upon intellectual property protection and infringement issues. The following are movies I have personally seen and highly recommend. Descriptions are from: Feel free to read their descriptions out loud to yourself in your best movie phone voice-I did.

Joy (2015)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper

Joy is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty [You know the movie about the miracle mop inventor].


Father of Invention (2010)

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Camilla Belle, and Heather Graham

After 8 years in prison, inventor Robert Axle struggles to win over his estranged family and catch up on current technology as he works to once again become the king of the infomercial.


Big Eyes (2014)

Starring: Amy Adams

A drama about the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.


Flash of Genius (2008)

Staring Greg Kinnear and Lauren Graham

Robert Kearns takes on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.


Almost Famous (2000)

William Miller is a 15-year-old kid hired by Rolling Stone magazine to tour with and write about Stillwater, an up and coming rock band. This wonderfully witty coming-of-age film follows William as he falls face first to confront life, love, and lingo.


Dark Mind (2006)

Paul, an optimistic inventor, turns into a recluse after facing a brutal betrayal. Convinced that Russians are spying on him, he struggles to protect his greatest invention: The Cube. When an accident thrusts him into the spotlight, his sense of reality is threatened and his world becomes twisted beyond recognition.


The Social Network (2010)

Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.


Will your movie night include your own kids, relatives, or kids you are watching? Maybe you want to watch a few of these classics:

Flubber, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Big Hero 6, Willy Wanka and the Chocolate Factory, Meet the Robinsons, Robots, Iron Man, Honey I Shrunk The Kids films, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, The Absent-Minded Professor, and the Back to the Future films.

At Mohr IP Law, we have clients that may or may not inspire films. One thing for sure is that everyone we meet has a story and an idea. And our clients are all stars. Watch a few of these films, let the creative juices flow, and contact us when you are ready to “Let your ideas take flight.” Grab your popcorn and your note-pad!




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Barbie-Life in Plastic, IP Protections are Fantastic

I recently heard that Barbie got a diversity make-over but it seems she has been getting a makeover since her first appearance March of 1959 (March 9th is considered her birthday just so you know). During the 57 years of her existence, Barbie has had every job in every industry and has been the subject of love and controversy. Many note that if she were a real woman her dimensions would cause her to both look odd and trip incessantly. Some are pleased with her ambition but get angered that she is still all about flash and beach houses. It seems the one consistent thing about her is her staying power.

A few months ago, NPR did a story about Mattel’s attempt to once again re-envision her. Many lauded the new Barbie and Barbie’s friend choices. Some however remarked that making a larger Barbie may cause a child to think it’s ok to not worry about the health effects of obesity. Yep, as mentioned –there is no pleasing everyone. I personally, think the changes are rather positive.

Barbie all started (came to light, was born, or however else we can describe her existence) when Ruth Handler noticed her daughter giving her paper dolls adult jobs and roles. Actual dolls that she did have didn’t have adult-bodies either. Her husband Elliot, a co-founder of Mattel and Mattel’s directors didn’t really think highly of Ruth’s adult-doll for kids, invention idea.

In 1956, on a trip to Europe, Ruth saw a German doll called ‘Bild Lilli’ that was an adult doll based on a comic strip character. It was first sold to adults but a year prior became a popular children’s toy.

Long story short, Ruth went back to Mattel and showed them some of these dolls and expressed that if Germany could make something like this, so could America. Mattel agreed and started making dolls that were different, but similar. Mattel bought the company that made the German Lilli doll, stopped making the doll and made Barbie instead, and licensed out the use of Lilli’s design to other companies for fees.

Louis Marx and Company sued Mattel in March 1961. After licensing Lilli, they claimed that Mattel had “infringed on Greiner & Hausser’s patent for Bild-Lilli’s hip joint, and also claimed that Barbie was “a direct take-off and copy” of Bild-Lilli. The company additionally claimed that Mattel “falsely and misleadingly represented itself as having originated the design”. Mattel counter-claimed and the case was settled out of court in 1963. In 1964, Mattel bought Greiner & Hausser’s copyright and patent rights for the Bild-Lilli doll for $21,600.[5 b

There have been several other issues, settlements, controversies, PR nightmares, lawsuits, and some combination of all of these. Now we know why Barbie and Ken spend time at the beach relaxing after a stressful year. One of the most recent and notable IP controversies started in the year 2000 when Carter Bryant, a Mattel Design Team employee pitched his idea for “Bratz” dolls to MGA (a competing toy company). Because the company loved the idea and gave Bryant a contract, he quickly after signing quit his position with Mattel.

If you have more time and/or interest, you can read this entire story at:

Essentially numerous lawsuits occurred after Bratz became extremely popular on after a short time on the market.

“The jury awarded damages of $20 million against MGA and $10 million against Larian [Chief CEO of MGA] in each of three causes of action — intentional interference with contractual relations, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, and aiding and abetting breach of the duty of loyalty.

They also found that MGA owed Mattel $6 million for copyright infringement, while Larian owed $3 million in distributions he’d received from Bratz-related sales, and MGA Hong Kong owed $1 million.”

All in all it’s important to do intellectual property searches, own and protect intellectual property rights, and to defend as necessary, and infringements. Call a gentleman or doll at Mohr IP Law today.

Just for you and the enjoyment or non-enjoyment of your co-workers-The Aqua “Barbie” song:

Barbie Patent





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