The best explanation of puffery you'll ever read, a new slant on disparagement, and more in this issue of IP Buzz

2 min

Bright Idea

The Best Explanation and Update on Puffery You Will Ever Read

"Don't worry, it's just a puff," or "that claim doesn't mean anything, it's just puffery," have become common refrains in marketing and legal departments in companies across the United States.

In many cases, puffing - the making of advertising claims that are not measurable and of the type upon which consumers would not normally rely - can be a powerful tool to build a brand's image with consumers. Puffery is valuable precisely because it allows marketers to grab the attention of consumers with bold advertising claims that do not require substantiation. A marketer's dream, right? Despite the potential for creating a lasting impression, puffing is not without its dangers.

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United States Supreme Court Building

Supreme Court Strikes Lanham Act's Disparagement Clause in Landmark Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on June 19, 2017, that the Lanham Act's disparagement clause prohibiting federal registration of "disparaging" trademarks unconstitutionally limits free speech in a case involving a band named "The Slants." But the effect on trademark applicants, however, is in question due to other viewpoint-based prohibitions that were not ruled upon.

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Interim Rule Affecting Secure Tests

The Copyright Office recently issued an interim rule amending 37 CFR Parts 201 and 202 effective on July 12, 2017, the first instance in more than thirty years where the Copyright Office has materially changed its special procedures for examining secure tests for copyright protection.

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Copyright Office Accounts for Supreme Court's Star Athletica Decision

The U.S. Copyright Office recently released a revised draft of the Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, which articulates the statutory duties of the Copyright Office and serves as a guide to those who frequently work with Office staff.

The revisions seek to clarify how and when the Office communicates with applicants and how it handles duplicate claims, deposit requirements, and claims involving multiple works. The new draft also provides useful guidance on how the Office will apply the Supreme Court's recent decision in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1002 (2017).

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Stacked Envelopes

The Supreme Court Confirms a Conditional Path to Service-by-Mail Outside the U.S.

Resolving a long-standing disagreement among appellate courts, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that service-by-mail of a complaint on a foreign corporation can be effective under the Hague Service Convention to drag that company into litigation in a U.S. court. Water Splash, Inc. v. Menon, No. 10-254, 2017 WL 2216933 (May 22, 2017).

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