CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Grillo's Pickles

If you haven't been to the Grillo's Pickles website, you should. There, you'll find the fantastic story of how this company began. We've copied part of it here to save you a click.

Grillo's Pickles began with a pickle cart, just a small wooden stand in downtown Boston, where Travis Grillo and his friends would sell two spears for one dollar. Travis would make the pickles by night using his family's 100-year old recipe - one he'd memorized from making pickles every summer as a kid. In the morning, Travis would bike to the Boston Common and set up the cart with his buddies. They'd hang out all day, urging people to try the simple Grillo family pickle. It was a small business but Travis worked hard for it. He made more pickles, biked more miles, and slept less hours than he ever had before.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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Fred and Danny Magnanimi grew up watching their father create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in the family's Cranston, RI jewelry manufacturing business. When the boys grew up, Fred moved to New York and began working on Wall Street as an investment banker, while younger brother Danny, still enamored by the family business, stayed home. Increased competition from overseas businesses created significant challenges for the business, but Danny was confident he could find a way for the family business to evolve and thrive. This was his mission, this was his passion.
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        U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Refusal to Register Disparaging Trademarks Struck Down on First Amendment Grounds

        The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a  9-3 decision in In re Tam, has declared a provision of the federal trademark law unconstitutional as violating the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.  The provision in question permits the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to refuse to register disparaging marks. 

        The case involves a trademark application by a band to register “THE SLANTS” for “entertainment in the nature of live performances by a musical band.”  The USPTO and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board refused to register the mark on the grounds that it was disparaging to people of Asian descent.  The founder of the band, who is of Asian descent, named the band “THE SLANTS” in part to “reappropriate” and take back control of the word that has long been seen as a racial slur targeting Asians.

        The essence of the court’s holding is that “[t]he government cannot refuse to register disparaging marks because it disapproves of the expressive messages conveyed by the marks.  It cannot refuse to register marks because it concludes that such marks will be disparaging to others.”  The court went on to declare that “even when speech ‘inflicts great pain,’ our Constitution protects it ‘to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.’”

        Undoubtedly an appeal will be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.  And the case will further the public controversy over the name of the National Football League’s “Washington Redskins” team, whose registration for the mark “REDSKINS” was recently cancelled under this same provision of the federal trademark law.  In the meantime, we will need to wait and see whether the USPTO will now approve applications for these types of marks, will accept the applications but “suspend” them until the courts provide clearer guidance, or will continue to refuse to accept these applications.