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Don't believe everything you hear about Yeezy's international war

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Did you hear about the international battle between Kanye West and a Chinese company? Celebrity news websites TMZ and PEOPLE reported that the famous musician turned fashion designer was strapping on his "fightin' shoes" in order to go toe-to-toe with Fujian Baby Network Technology Co., a clothing company in China.

West, who sells shoes and clothing under the name "Yeezy," was reported to have dropped the ball by failing to keep his trademark paperwork up-to-date. The news publications stated that the heated battle began when Fujian Baby swept in and nabbed the name "Yeezy Boost" for its new line of clothing.

All things Yeezy are not what they seem

Fortunately, the reports of the Yeezy demise are greatly exaggerated. The Fashion Law labeled the misinformation as FashionFakeNews, and explained what really happened:

  • Kanye West holds a number of registered trademarks through a holding company.
  • The Yeezy tradename primarily focused on footwear, but West has been using the name for clothing and accessories since a runway show in early 2015.
  • Fujian Baby submitted a trademark application for Yeezy Boost to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") in June 2017.
  • In August 2017, West's legal team filed an application with the USPTO to use "Yeezy" on clothing items, essentially to expand the name use beyond footwear.
  • The USPTO refused Fujian Baby's application in September 2017.
  • The USPTO suspended West's application pending the finalization of its refusal of Fujian Baby's application.

Don't worry WestEverything will be okay

Here's why Kanye West has nothing to worry about:

  • The USPTO refused Fujian Baby's application for being too similar to other already-registered trademarks. Not only is the word "Yeezy" registered by Kanye West, "Boost" is registered by a different (and unrelated) company.
  • Fujian Baby's deadline for fighting the Patent and Trademark Office's refusal has already passed. Once the refusal is formalized, West's suspended application should be approved.

Intellectual property laws vary from country to country. In China, the first to register a trademark has superior rights to another who may already be using the same trademark. In the U.S., the first to use a trademark has superior rights over someone who has registered the trademark but has yet to use it.

What is the bottom line for those who are dealing with intellectual property matters? Don't go through the hassle of filing an application with the USPTO if you don't know all the rules. Additionally, revisit the language of your patent or trademark application to verify that it covers all that you need it to protect.

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