Top Tips for Maintaining Adequate Quality Control Over Trademark Licensees
In order for rights in a trademark to persist, the mark must be used in commerce continuously. Wallack v. Idexx Labs., Inc., No. 11CV2996-GPC(KSC), 2015 WL 5943844, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 13, 2015). Abandonment of a mark is, therefore, an affirmative defense to a trademark infringement claim. One form of trademark abandonment is non-use of the mark. A second form of trademark abandonment is uncontrolled or “naked” licensing of one’s trademark. The policy behind prohibiting uncontrolled licensing is reflected in 15 U.S.C. § 1127, which states that “[a] mark will be deemed abandoned … [w]hen any course of conduct of the owner, including acts of omission as well as commission, causes the mark to … lose its significance as a mark.” 15 U.S.C. § 1127 (emphasis added); Already LLC v. Nike Inc., 568 U.S. 85, 99 (2013). “Naked licensing is an uncontrolled licensing of a mark whereby the licensee can place the mark on any quality or type of goods or services, raising a grave danger that the public will be deceived by such a usage.” Doeblers’ Penn. Hybrids, 442 F.3d at 823 (internal quotations and citations omitted). The way to protect against this danger to the consuming public is to require the licensor to actively police use of the licensed mark.