First-to-Use Scheme Means U.S. Owners can Appropriate Foreign Trademarks
December 23, 2012
Michael Atkins

Presse logos: Paris (left) and Seattle. Nothing wrong with this picture. 

This is my first blog post in a while. I’m sorry about that. I’ve been traveling.

In fact, I just got back from Paris. What a town. I’ve said Chicago is the most beautiful city in America. I stand by that proclamation. But I’ve got to give Paris the distinction of being the most beautiful city in the world.

While there, I noticed a familiar trademark — that of Seattle’s Cafe Presse restaurant and bar. Apparently, the logo is also the symbol of newsstands in Paris, which is apropos, since the Seattle establishment has a Parisian and newsstand theme.

I don’t see anything wrong with a Seattle company appropriating a foreign trademark. If the foreign owner hasn’t used the mark in the States, it probably doesn’t have any trademark rights here. So, there should be no problem under trademark law. In such a case, the U.S. company would be the only company with rights in the trademark here.

While Cafe Presse’s use of the French logo appears to be a love letter to Paris, its rights in the mark in the States is all-American. For trademark law purposes, the first party to use a mark in the States generally means it’s the first party to have rights in the States.

(Photos by STL)

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