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Changing the Applicant Name in a Trademark Application

In the past year, I have dealt with one issue more times than I have in the previous ten years of practice: correcting or changing the applicant name in a trademark application.  Apparently trademark applicants are mis-identifying themselves more frequently in trademark applications than they used to.

Changing or correcting a trademark applicant’s name is not always a straightforward or safe thing.  The reason for the correction dictates whether it can be made at all.  Some changes are simple, some are complicated, and some will potentially invalidate the trademark application.

Different Types of Changes

A change of the trademark applicant name may need to be made if any of the following have occurred:

  • Owner changed its name without a transfer of assets
  • Transfer of ownership of the trademark
  • The owner was identified incorrectly in the original trademark application filing

Trademark Filing Basis Can Limit the Change

The law limits the extent to which a trademark applicant can change an owner’s name on an intent-to-use trademark application.  You generally cannot assign an intent-to-use trademark application to a third-party.

Any name changes of intent-to-use applications must reflect only changes of ownership to a business successor for the goods and services connected to the trademark.  Otherwise, you must wait until the trademark application’s filing basis changes to “in-use,” such as after filing an Amendment to Allege Use or a Statement of Use.

Entity Name Change

Sometimes, a company changes its name without merging or selling.  When the company simply undergoes a name change, then updating the applicant name in the trademark application is fairly easy.  Go to the Electronic Trademark Assignment System (ETAS) and then select “Change of Name”:

Change of name form for a trademark application

ETAS Change of Name Form for a Trademark Application

You may also need to change the entity name if the owner was a person and changed his or her last name.  For instance, if the owner got married and adopted a new last name, she could change her name in this way.

Transfer of Ownership

If the trademark has changed hands, then you should record a transfer of ownership or a trademark assignment.  Typically, this will happen when one company buys a product line or another company.

The Trademark Office requires submission of the document effecting the transfer of ownership.  This document will become public record.  For this reason, big agreements sometimes include a separate trademark assignment as an exhibit to the agreement.  This allows the attorneys to file only the exhibit without revealing all the details of the big agreement.

Correcting a Mis-Identified Applicant

When a trademark application initially identifies the wrong applicant, real problems can arise.  Changing the applicant name in a trademark application like this has to be done with extreme caution.  It can result in the invalidation of the application.

First, a trademark application must always identify the owner of the trademark as the applicant.  When an application is filed in the name of the wrong party, this defect cannot be cured by amendment or assignment.  The application is then void and invalid.

If there was a mistake in identifying when the applicant’s name was entered, then this might be correctable.  There are only a few situations in which this correction can be made:

  • If the trademark owner provided its trade name, or its dba, but that name is not actually its legal name, then the Trademark Office does permit a correction. You can fix the application to change the applicant name from the dba to the entity’s actual legal name.
  • If the application identified a division of the company, rather than the company itself, this mistake can be corrected.
  • If you forgot to put something minor like “The” or “Inc.” then in most cases this mistake can be corrected. The Trademark Office will not tolerate any change more significant, however.
  • If there is an internal inconsistency in identifying the owner, then the Office will permit correction of the applicant name. For example, in some places, you may have listed the owner as a company and in other places as an individual; the Office will let you correct this to make all references to the owner consistent.
  • If the owner changed its name before filing the application and used the old name on the application, then the owner may correct the applicant name to the new name. You may be required to explain that the previous name and current name identify the same enterprise.
  • Identifying partners in a partnership, rather than the partnership itself, can be corrected.

Some specific situations that cannot be fixed:

  • Trademark applications that identify an employee of a company as the owner, rather than the company itself, cannot be corrected.
  • If the trademark application identifies a first company as the trademark owner, but prior to the filing date of the trademark application, that first company had actually already transferred the trademark to a second company, then the trademark application is void.
  • If a trademark is owned by a joint venture, but the application only names one of the joint venturers, then the application is void.
  • If the trademark application identifies a related company which is not the owner, then the trademark application is void. For instance, if a sister company owns the trademark application, or if a subsidiary company owns the application.


Rubik’s Cube Intellectual Property

In honor of the Rubik’s Cube craze that has recently hit the Galvani household, we decided to take a closer look at how this iconic toy was created and what type of intellectual property protection it has enjoyed over the years.

Rubik's Cube

Rubik’s Cube

Erno Rubik was a Hungarian design teacher who loved puzzles.  He set about creating a toy based upon geometry in hopes of helping his students learn about three-dimensional objects.  Rubik invented a toy with 26 tiny cubes in six different colors joined together into one big cube that he called the “Magic Cube” in 1974 and by 1980, it was being sold in toy stores world-wide under the name “Rubik’s Cube.”  This famous puzzle toy has been the subject of various infringement suits over the last forty years.

Rubik received patent protection for the Rubik’s Cube toy in Hungary in 1977.  He obtained little patent protection world-wide, however, only receiving patents in Belgium and the United States.  Rubik was granted a U.S patent on March 29, 1983 for a “Spatial Logical Toy.”  Rubik granted the toy company Ideal Toys a license to sell the Rubik’s Cube toy.  Larry D. Nichols had a 1972 patent for a “2x2x2 Puzzle with Pieces Rotatable in Groups,” which was for a 2×2 puzzle held together with magnets.  He sued Ideal Toys for patent infringement.  After losing this infringement case in 1984, Ideal Toys appealed and, in 1986, a court determined that the original Rubik’s Cube toy did not violate the Nichols patent, but a pocket-sized version of the Rubik’s Cube did.

The U.S. patent for the Rubik’s Cube expired in 2000, but Seven Towns, the exclusive licensee of Rubik’s Cube’s IP rights at the time, had a creative strategy for finding protection in another way.  Seven Towns attempted to register trademark – or trade dress – protection in the shape of a Rubik’s Cube toy to prevent knock-off versions.  It registered the cube shape with the European Union Intellectual Property Office in 1999.  Trade dress and trademark protection can be extremely valuable since they can potentially continue forever in spite of the expiration of related patents covering the underlying product.  The EUIPO granted the trademark, and Seven Towns enjoyed its protection until it was challenged in 2006 by another toy company called Simba Toys.  After a 10-year battle, Simba Toys won its argument that the cube’s shape contained a technical solution that should be protected by a patent, not a trademark.  The EU canceled the Rubik’s Cube trademark.

These days, you can find plenty of knock-off puzzles, but most major retailers continue to sell the original Rubik’s Cube and related puzzle products under the Rubik’s name which are marketed as the “World’s No. 1 Puzzle.”



Office Action Response Deadline Change

Trademark owners will soon have a shorter office action response deadline.

SpaceX flies over Phoenix after launching from Vandenberg

SpaceX flies over Phoenix after launching from Vandenberg

Beginning December 3, 2022, the Trademark Office will cut the normal six-month response period to just three months.

When a trademark application undergoes examination, the Trademark Office sends an office action to raise and address issues with the application.  Until now, applicants have had 6 months to respond to the action.  This was codified in Trademark Office regulations.

Now, applicants have less time.  As part of the implementation of the Trademark Modernization Act, applicants will now have to respond within 3 months of the issue date of the office action.  However, applicants can “buy back” the full months by paying a $125 extension fee.  This will let them have the full 6 months for a response, but applicant have to file the request before the 3-month office action response deadline ends.

This system is similar to the one that the Patent Office uses.  In the Patent Office, the 6-month office action response deadline is shortened to 3 months, and applicants must pay extension fees for individual months.  The extensions are purchased in single-month increments, so applicants can buy an extension for the fourth month, or for five months, or for six months.  The extensions under the patent system are not due preemptively; applicants request them when filing the response in the fourth, fifth, or sixth months.

Not all trademark applications will actually have the abbreviated office action response deadline.  Applications filed into the US through the Madrid Protocol will continue to retain the 6-month response period.  More information is available from the USPTO here.



Converting to a Provisional Application

Clients often file a provisional application

Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, Purgatory

Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, Purgatory

and then file a non-provisional patent application on the same or similar subject matter within a year.  Clients and attorneys sometimes loosely refer to this as converting a provisional application into a non-provisional patent application.  It isn’t really.

What they are really doing is filing a non-provisional patent application and making a domestic benefit claim to the provisional application.  Because the content of the provisional is often so similar to the non-provisional, “converting” is shorthand, but ultimately a misnomer.

Converting to a Non-Provisional Patent Application

There is actually a technical meaning for converting a provisional application into a non-provisional patent application.  It is when you make a specific request to the Patent Office and ask that it take the provisional you filed and treat it as if it were a non-provisional patent application.  If you request this, your provisional better be in good enough shape to actually work as a non-provisional patent application.

Converting in this way doesn’t happens a lot, but it can be a useful loophole in certain circumstances.  For instance, normally, a design patent application cannot claim priority to a provisional application.  This means that often one must file a provisional and a design patent application at the same time, rather than delaying the design patent application.  However, you could potentially file a provisional and then convert it into a non-provisional.  Later, if the drawings in the non-provisional support it, you could file a design application claiming priority to the non-provisional.  This would make it seem like your design application’s priority actually extends back to the provisional’s filing date, which it does, because the provisional became the non-provisional.

Converting to a Provisional Application

This article is actually about the opposite type of request: converting a non-provisional patent application into a provisional application.  This asks the Patent Office to turn a non-provisional into a provisional for any number of reasons (none of which you have to disclose).

I recently had to do this when a client, intending to file a provisional application on its own, navigated the filing system incorrectly and accidentally filed a non-provisional application.  This kind of mistake is surprisingly easy to make in the Patent Office’s new Patent Center / DOCX filing system.

Why Convert?

If the content of the application is limited, as a provisional often is, then filing a provisional application as a non-provisional can be disastrous.  If the mistake is not caught early and the application publishes, it will create a disclosure.  That disclosure will have prior art effects against competitors but also potentially against the patent applicant.  And, if the disclosure is limited, there may not be enough substance to support decent claims.  This can ruin the patentability of the idea and potentially destroy a whole family of patents.

So, if you inadvertently filed a non-provisional application and meant to file a provisional, you can make a special request.

The applicant must make a written request and submit it to the Petitions Office.  The request must clearly identify the patent application and request conversion, preferably by identifying the correct applicable regulation.  Additionally, the applicant must pay fees.  The fees are actually fairly affordable.  In addition to the provisional filing fees (which would have had to have been paid originally anyway), a processing fee ($50 at the small entity rate) and a surcharge ($30 at the small entity rate) are due.  Unfortunately, the Patent Office will not refund the fees associated with filing the non-provisional.

The Petitions Office will consider a request which is proper.  The Petitions Office is quite backed up as of the publish date of this article, and it may take several months for review.  Another petition and filing fee can expedite review of the petition if the applicant wants faster consideration.



Trademark Coexistence Agreement

National Mall in August

National Mall in August

A trademark coexistence agreement is an agreement between two parties about their respective use of the same or similar trademarks.  They generally allow two trademark owners to use identical or similar marks, usually in a manner designed to avoid consumer confusion.  They are helpful in several situations.  A trademark coexistence agreement can be used to resolve disputes between two parties, or to prevent potential disputes, or to overcome rejections by the Trademark Office.

 

Trademark Coexistence Agreement to Resolve Disputes

Trademarks are fundamentally intended to prevent consumer confusion.  When two marks are the same or similar, the public can be confused about who the source of the product or service is.  This can flare as a trademark infringement dispute, where one party sues – or threatens to sue – the other party for having a trademark which is too similar to its own.

 

If the parties can resolve this dispute, they will usually execute an agreement.  The agreement might require one party to change its name, or it might allow that party to continue using its name, perhaps for a short period of time or maybe even permanently.  For those latter two options, a trademark coexistence agreement – or at least a coexistence provision – will be used.

 

To Prevent Disputes

Sometimes, before a client files its trademark application, it will conduct a pre-filing clearance search to see if there are other similar or identical marks already registered or used.  This allows the client to evaluate the risk of proceeding forward.  Occasionally, a trademark applicant will proceed forward even though there is a similar trademark already registered, because the applicant feels the mark is different.  In that event, the applicant will sometimes proactively reach out to the prior trademark registrant and request a trademark coexistence agreement to potentially head off even the unlikely risk that consumers will be confused.

 

To Overcome Rejections

When a trademark application is filed, the Trademark Office examines it before it will register the trademark.  During examination, the Office will reject the trademark application if it finds any registered marks which pose a likelihood of confusion.

 

The rejection will stand, and the application will become abandoned, unless the applicant responds and overcomes the rejection.  Often times, the applicant can present arguments based on case law or evidence.  Sometimes, however, there may be reasons to present other arguments.

 

A trademark coexistence agreement is persuasive evidence in response to a rejection.  While not completely binding, the law gives significant weight to a trademark coexistence agreement.  Examiners will generally, but not always, withdraw a rejection the applicant has a trademark coexistence agreement.  However, Examiners will refuse to accept those agreements when they fail to address real conditions and concerns.

Trademark Coexistence Agreement Elements

The Trademark Office’s desire to see “real” agreements reflects the need for a trademark coexistence agreement to be more than just an agreement to use two similar marks.  It must actually address the likely concerns of not just the trademark owners but the consumers as well.  For instance, it could discuss concerns such as:

  • The level of experience and familiarity the two parties have with the respective industry and their customers
  • The similarities and differences in the marks’ sight, sound, and appearance
  • The similarities and differences in the goods and/or services
  • The similarities and differences in the customers and channels of trade
  • Restrictions on any future trademark filings of the parties
  • Amendments to the trademark application or registration details
  • Geographic restrictions on the parties’ respective uses
  • Goods and/or services restrictions on the parties’ respective uses
  • Industry restrictions on the parties’ respective uses
  • Any limitations to how the parties’ trademarks will be displayed or styled
  • Any disclaimers that either of the parties should use
  • Any restrictions on how the parties’ goods and/or services may be advertised
  • Any restrictions on the channels of trade for the parties’ goods and/or services
  • What the parties will do in the event of actual confusion

 

Trademark coexistence agreements are not the right solution in all situations.  In some cases, a trademark coexistence agreement can weaken a trademark owner’s rights and should be avoided.  Speak with a local trademark attorney if you think you need a trademark coexistence agreement or have been approached by someone requesting you to sign one.

 



Limitation of Liability Clauses – You Definitely Want One, But Why?

Over El Paso and Ciudad Juarez

Over El Paso and Ciudad Juarez

Many sophisticated business contracts contain limitation of liability clauses. By contractually limiting your liability, you can better plan for your level of exposure in the event something goes wrong. Limitation of liability provisions can be helpful risk management tools if drafted correctly.

First, limitation of liability clauses often limit the amount of liability to which you can be exposed in connection with the contract at hand. This can be done by specifying an actual dollar amount as a liability maximum, but such a limitation may also expressed as a fraction of the amount exchanged in the contract. For example, parties to a licensing agreement may provide that the liability of either party will not exceed the amount of royalties earned during the most recent year during the contract term.

Additionally, limitation of liability clauses frequently limit the type of liability to which a party can be exposed. This is commonly done by prohibiting either party from incurring special, consequential, incidental, punitive, or indirect damages. Limitation of liability clauses may also exclude damages for lost profits or interruption of business. Essentially, the goal is to limit a party’s ability to collect with respect to any damages or other losses that are not directly caused by the party at fault. For example, imagine that a plumber tasked with installing new sinks in a restaurant bathroom accidentally causes a pipe to burst and floods a significant portion of the restaurant. The restaurant must close for 2 days while the flooding is mitigated. If the plumber has excluded the restaurant’s ability to collect lost profits or other indirect damages, the plumber may be responsible for fixing the broken pipe and cleaning up the water, but she will not be liable for any profits lost by the restaurant resulting from the 2-day closure.

In negotiating limitation of liability clauses, note that sophisticated parties often ask for “carve-outs”, a.k.a. certain bad acts to which the limitations will not apply. The most common carve-outs are gross negligence, fraud, and willful misconduct. However, a party may also ask for more specific carve-outs if they are particularly concerned about certain risks, like intellectual property infringement, breaches of confidentiality obligations, or security incidents.

Finally, note that certain liability limitations may be prohibited by law, so you should consult with your attorney to determine whether there are any restrictions on limitations of liability in your jurisdiction that might be applicable.



Sovereign Immunity for Copyright Infringement

Pictographs by the Fremont People, Jones Hole Creek, Utah

Pictographs by the Fremont People, Jones Hole Creek, Utah

An author is petitioning the Supreme Court for the second time, arguing that Texas A&M should be liable for copyright infringement after copying an important page from his book.

The case raises questions that the Court has touched upon before:

  • Are the Aggies protected by sovereign immunity?
  • Are the states fee to commit copyright infringement without penalty?
  • Did Texas make an unauthorized taking of the copyrighted work?
  • Is copyright infringement never a taking?
  • Is there any other type of liability here?

In 2020, the court decided Allen v. Cooper, holding that sovereign immunity protected states from copyright infringement claims. This case affected the author’s first petition to the Court.  Now he is trying again, challenging sovereign immunity for copyright infringement and its relationship to the Constitution.

Sovereign immunity is the sometimes qualified protection given to states to infringe on the rights of others. Policy decisions underpin much of sovereign immunity.  But should it allow a state entity – like Texas A&M University – to copy someone else’s hard work and creative expression?  Should Texas A&M be subject to copyright infringement despite the policy?

More available here at Patently-O.



Crumbl Cookies Trademarks

Riding up to Big Mountain, UT

Riding up to Big Mountain, UT

Earlier this year, Crumbl Cookies sued two competitors.  Crumbl started in Logan, Utah, not far from where I happen to be writing this today in Bountiful, Utah.  Crumbl sells large ornate cookies in pink boxes and has a menu that rotates periodically.  Crumbl feels that other companies have tried to jump into the same space, trade off their goodwill and reputation, and compete unlawfully.

Crumbl sued Crave Cookies and Dirty Dough for trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, and unlawful competition.  The CEO of Dirty Dough published the trademark complaint on his LinkedIn and Facebook pages, so this post addresses that action only.

Essentially, the complaint boils down to Crumbl’s claim that “Dirty Dough … sells and promotes cookies using packaging, decor, and presentation that is
confusingly similar to Crumbl’s established and successful trade dress and brand identity.”

Crumbl claims it has certain intellectual property rights in its business, including:

  • Delivery services for its scratch-made gourmet cookies
  • Packaging in oblong pink boxes that have “no extra space”
  • The color pink
  • The CRUMBL COOKIES logo, featuring a “whimsical, outlined-shaped drawings, including a cookie with a bite taken out of it”
  • Seamless ordering expiring on the Crumbl app
  • Weekly rotating menus

Crumbl will have to establish that it actually has these rights, which will involve arguing that others don’t.  One challenge for Crumbl will be differentiating and delineating its packaging, cookie styles, menus, etc. from those of other cookie companies.  This could be quite difficult.  It will involve defining the market, defining the products, defining the customers, identifying the features or characteristics that make its product unique among its competitors, and other things that are highly fact dependent and may require a great deal of expert work.

Crumbl will then need to argue that Dirty Dough is infringing its rights.  The complaint makes a first pleading on this, for example, by suggesting that the two companies use the same channels of trade including storefronts, websites, and social media accounts.  Of course, for that example, what company doesn’t sell through those channels?  Crumbl attempts to paint the companies as similar because they both use pictures on their respective Facebook pages showing cookies laid flat, shot from above.  Crumbl argues that the two companies both use a cookie image with a bite taken out.  Crumbl even presents in its complaint side-by-side photos of cookies decorated in a similar fashion, such as with a white swirl pattern, chocolate candy bar, or sprinklers:

Crumbl Cookies compared to Dirty Dough cookies

Crumbl on the left, Dirty Dough on the right

These are all going to be difficult arguments.  Certainly, Crumbl has grown quickly and become well-known in Utah.  However, whether it has the sort of fame and exclusivity necessary to exercise the rights it claims it has is an entirely other story.  The case will take a great deal of time to develop, and will probably twist and turn as evidence is exchanged, experts testify about cookie marketplaces and packaging practices, and the parties focus on some arguments more than others.  At this stage, it is far too early to tell what will happen, but this case and the Crave case do establish one thing: they show would-be competitors that Crumbl is not afraid to go to the mat.



Trademark Assignment

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

Trademarks are assets of a company. Just like any other asset, they can be bought and sold. However, unlike other assets, trademarks cannot generally be sold by themselves. In other words, a trademark must be sold with something else, something which is related to the trademark. A trademark assignment is the typical mechanism by which a trademark is transferred.

Proper Trademark Assignment

A trademark assignment is either or both of the act of transferring a trademark and the document by which the trademark is actually transferred. Companies will transfer a trademark when they are bought or acquired, or when a specific service or product line is sold or spun off. A trademark assignment actually changes the ownership of the trademark from the first party to the second.

A trademark assignment, if done properly, will usually identify and state a few things. First, the document will identify the trademark itself, usually with a serial or registration number (if a trademark application has been filed or granted), the mark itself, and often with the list of goods and/or services with which the mark is used. This information is often sufficient to clearly identify a trademark. For common-law trademarks – trademarks which are merely used but not filed at the USPTO – the trademark assignment may only be able to identify the mark and its corresponding goods/services. If possible, additional information can be included describing the first use of the mark or geographic areas of use, but one must be careful not to identify that information in a way that unintentionally limits the scope of the trademark’s rights.

The trademark assignment should also identify whether or what other assets, or products, or goodwill is being conveyed with the trademark. The transfer cannot occur in isolation. For example, if Nike were to sell its Air Jordan trademark to Adidas, it could not just give the trademark to Adidas in exchange for a boatload of cash; it would have to also move its inventory of shoes, or plans for designing the shoes, or the Nike division and all the workers responsible for designing Air Jordan shoes.

Improper Trademark Assignment

A trademark assignment can be improper for a number of reasons.  For example, someone may attempt to improperly assign an intent-to-use application, may assign the trademark without a written document, or may not actually have the rights to assign it.  One problem that can arise is a naked assignment. A naked assignment is a transfer of a trademark without any accompanying goodwill. In the above example, if Adidas just sent money to Nike for the ability to use AIR JORDAN and for nothing else, that would be a naked assignment and presumed invalid.

If a trademark assignment transfers a trademark from a company that no longer exists, that assignment can be invalid. Depending on the state law, some companies have the ability to transfer assets during a limited wind-down period after dissolution of the company, but those laws vary from state to state or may not allow it all. Even the local law forbids a non-existent company from transferring a trademark, the conveyance may be invalid. In some cases, clawback, retroactive, or nunc pro tunc agreements might be a possibility, but those should be carefully researched and approached with great skepticism.

Separate Trademark Assignment Documents

When conveying a pending or registered trademark, it is best to record the trademark assignment with the USPTO. Recording at the USPTO makes the assignment public record. As such, sometimes parties may want to draft a trademark assignment as a stand-alone document. This allows those parties to record the trademark assignment by itself without making all the details of a much larger deal public.

For example, if Nike were acquiring Under Armor, there would be hundreds of pages of agreement details covering purchase price, debt obligations, transition periods, stock purchases, employee handling, etc. The vast majority of these details would be irrelevant to the transfer of the trademark, and neither company would probably want to make those details public (and likely, the agreement would have a confidentiality clause preventing those details from being made public). To still be able to record the trademark assignment, the lawyers would put the assignment in an exhibit. The exhibit would probably be only one or two pages and would not contain any details regarding the bigger detail. The lawyers could then file only that particular exhibit with the USPTO while maintaining the rest of the agreement in confidence.



Is The Disney Font Copyrighted?

I have been in Boston the past week, and while visiting Faneuil Hall, my family noticed a storefront sign that felt familiar, shown at right.

Faneuil Hall is a nearly three-hundred-year-old building that a rich merchant, Peter Faneuil, had built to house various merchants.  This “Cradle of Liberty” was a meeting location for patriots in the years before the Revolutionary War.  Atop the Faneuil Hall is/was a golden weathervane in the shape of a grasshopper, apparently a good luck imitation of the grasshopper weathervane above the Royal Exchange in London.

Which brings us to the storefront name, Grasshopper Creamery.  The restaurant itself is gone now; I assume this place sold ice cream and fudge or something similar to tourists like me.  I have no idea why it is gone, but I suspect it was not because of intellectual property infringement.

The storefront sign font clearly is the Disney font.  Or a Disney font.  My wife immediately said, “hey, that looks like Disney’s lettering” when she saw the sign.  And it does.  The A, S, and E in the word signs look very similar.

So, is this trademark infringement?   Probably not.  Without doing something more, trademark rights do not attach to a font set, and they do not attach to particular letters such that the use of a similar font on other letters would constitute trademark infringement.  In other words, Disney’s use of the above trademark for ice cream and other food services would not create such strong rights that it could leverage them against a company with an entirely different name like GRASSHOPPER.

But, is it copyright infringement?  This question is tougher to answer.  To be clear, using a font for ten letters (WALT DISNEY) does not create ownership rights in a full set of 26 letters scripted in that font.  In fact, using a font for ten letters as a name (like WALT DISNEY) does not even create copyright rights in that name, because copyright protection cannot substitute in short phrases in names.

Then is there any infringement, any protection at all?  Potentially.  Typographers do protect fonts with copyright.  When an artist develops a new font, he or she can protect it and can register it for official protection with the US Copyright Office.  This gives the artist strong rights and makes it much easier to license to typesetters, printers, artists, and software companies.  Disney may have done this with its font.  If so, it alone would have the right to use those protected letters, and it alone would have the right to license the use of those letters.  In some cases, fair use can allow permissive use, but those circumstances are specialized, limited, and almost certainly would not cover storefront signage for a commercial enterprise.  I am not certain as to whether Disney did copyright its font set, so this question remains unanswered in my book.