Monday, October 4, 2010

Trade Undress

One kind of trademark is "trade dress," which encompasses the design and appearance of a product and its packaging.  Think of the distinctive shape of a Coca-Cola bottle.  On Friday, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals took up of the issue of whether the "cuffs & collar" uniform of the Chippendales exotic dancers is "inherently distinctive" trade dress under federal law.  It is not.  Some highlights:
The applicant, Chippendales, is in the business of providing adult entertainment services for women. It opened its first strip club in Los Angeles in 1978. In 1979, Chippendales performers began wearing an abbreviated tuxedo—wrist cuffs and a bowtie collar without a shirt—as part of their act. This costume, referred to as the “Cuffs & Collar,” was featured prominently in Chippendales’ advertising and performances over the past several decades. It is set forth below:
I know what you're thinking:  did Chippendales steal Bart Torvik's image for that picture?  This occurred to me as well.  I have no proof and, anyhow, I'm flattered.

Back to the case.  The court found "the Cuffs & Collar mark not inherently distinctive because of the existence of the pervasive Playboy mark, which includes the cuffs and collar together with bunny ears."  Playboy first registered its version of the Cuffs & Collar look in 1964.  Here's a more recent variation:

And so ends another hard night's blogging.

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