(Product Configuration Trade Dress)


When a World War II soldier returned home to New York, he began selling paper cups to restaurants throughout New York City and formed what became the Sheri Cup Company.  Through his hard work and determination, his distinctive Paper Cup Design became a symbol of New York City and was ultimately selected to appear on the cover of its telephone book.  Since the 1970’s, this Paper Cup Design has been widely used by the movie industry (Serpico, Soylent Green, The Sunshine Boys, The Goodbye Girl, Ghostbusters, etc.) and television industry (Hill Street Blues, Taxi, Law & Order, Seinfeld, Friends, etc.) to depict an authentic a New York City setting.  When The Fond Group, (f/k/a Sheri Cup Company and Sweetheart Cup Company) retained Attorney Sokol as its trademark counsel, he learned competitors were making ceramic cups depicting this Paper Cup Design.  He realized the value of this mark and filed a federal product configuration trademark application. The Trademark Office Examining Attorney initially rejected the application asserting the Paper Cup Design was not a valid mark because it did not serve as a source identifier for the paper cups.  Attorney Sokol persuaded the Examiner to withdraw the rejection by showing that purchasers of the paper cups did in fact use the product itself as an indication of the source of the cups.  Sweetheart Cup Company (n/k/a Solo Cup Company) obtained U.S. Registration No. 2,781,561 for the famous WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU Paper Cups Design for paper cups for restaurant supply distributors.

Filed Under

  • USPTO: Identifying, Obtaining and Defending Famous Marks
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