There is an interesting new post at Lex Vini from the legal mavens at Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty. It disects a recent case that revolved around trademarks and COLAs:
In the United States, trademark rights may be established through the lawful use of a mark in association with goods in commerce. When one is selling a product that is not subject to government regulation, such as t-shirts, it is fairly simple to make lawful use of a mark in commerce; you label the t-shirt with your trademark and you then offer it for sale via the Internet, a retail store, or some other sales outlet. However, when it comes to products that are regulated by the government, such as wine, there is the additional question of whether a use is lawful if the seller of the wine has not complied with all of the government regulations necessary to sell the product. For instance, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) requires that before a wine may be released from bond or Customs a party must first obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (“COLA”) for the label for such wine. So, if a party has not obtained a COLA when it first sells its wine, can that party establish lawful use of the mark in commerce as of that date of first sale absent the COLA?
The whole post can be read here.