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Posts Tagged: "Trademark Trial and Appeal Board"

CAFC Vacates TTAB Finding of No Fraud on the USPTO, Citing Two Legal Errors

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday, November 12, vacated and remanded a decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) that had found Galperti S.r.l (Galperti-Italy) had not committed fraud on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in asserting that it had substantially exclusive use of the mark GALPERTI in the five years preceding its registration. The appeal to the CAFC stems from Galperti, Inc.’s (Galperti-USA’s) petition for cancellation based on its own prior use of the same mark, in which the TTAB found that Galperti-USA had demonstrated only insignificant use of the mark and therefore had not proven fraud or falsity on the part of Galperti-Italy. The CAFC cited two legal errors in the TTAB’s analysis that warranted vacatur and remand.

Pro-Apple TTAB Bias Case Heats Up at CAFC

Following a motion filed in mid-October with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) accusing the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and its management of facilitating the appearance of bias at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) in favor of Apple, Inc., Apple has now filed its opposition to that motion. Apple contends there is no precedent for allowing the motion, as it requests to supplement the record with documents that were not part of the trial record; that the TTAB is “an executive adjudicatory body” within the USPTO, which is “an executive agency within the Department of Commerce, and the TTAB’s administrative law judges are not subject to the recusal requirements set out in 28 U.S.C. § 455”; and that the documents Charles Bertini is asking to submit “reflect merely routine and fleeting professional contacts” that “fall far below the threshold of the personal contacts necessary to support disqualification on the basis of bias or prejudice.”

CAFC Addresses Standing Requirement in Brooklyn Brew Shop Trademark Dispute

On October 27, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) cancellation of Brooklyn Brew Shop, LLC’s (BBS) standard character mark and dismissed in part, affirmed in part and remanded the TTAB’s decision regarding the opposition of BBS’s mark. For over 30 years, The Brooklyn Brewery Corporation (Brewery) has used the marks BROOKLYN and BROOKLYN BREWERY in connection with the advertising, promotion, and sale of Brewery’s beer and beer-related merchandise. In 2006, Brewery registered BROOKLYN BREWERY as a federal trademark for beer in class 32.

USPTO Judges, Management, Accused of Bias—This Time at the TTAB

A motion filed on Friday, October 15, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) requests that the appellant, Charles Bertini, be allowed to present evidence not of record in order to demonstrate that bias at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) may have had a negative impact on his case. Bertini owns the mark APPLE JAZZ, which was registered in New York state in 1991 for entertainment services. He began using the mark well before that, in 1985. Unaware that he did not have a federal registration, Bertini filed an opposition against Apple, Inc.’s federal registration for “Apple Music” in 2016, along with an application to register APPLE JAZZ with the USPTO.

Third Circuit Joins Sister Courts in Ruling TTAB Decisions May Not Have Preclusive Effect

On September 17, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential decision that affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded a decision by the District Court for the District of New Jersey, holding that trademark cancellation proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) do not preclude infringement claims in federal district court. In 1969, David Beasley formed a band named “The Ebonys” in Camden, New Jersey. The Ebonys were one of many bands that helped create the “Philadelphia Sound” which incorporated elements of soul, funk, and disco. The Ebonys achieved some commercial success in the 1970s but failed to reach the notoriety of other groups. As the decades wore on, the Ebonys’ popularity faded, though Beasley alleges they performed continuously since their formation. In the mid-1990s William Howard joined the band, and in 1997, Beasley obtained a New Jersey state service mark for THE EBONYS. Relations between Howard and Beasley soured and the pair parted ways. Each artist believed themselves the owner of the Ebonys name, and in 2012, Howard obtained Registration No. 4,170,469 (the ‘469 mark) for THE EBONYS, as a federal trademark. 

CAFC: TTAB Never Had a Pre-Arthrex Appointments Clause Issue

On September 1, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB’s) cancellation of a trademark owned by Sweet 16 Musical Properties (Sweet 16), concluding that there is no Appointments Clause issue with the TTAB…. On appeal, Sweet 16 raised a constitutional challenge to the composition of the TTAB panel that decided their case. Sweet 16 argued that the administrative trademark judges (ATJs) who sat on the panel were appointed in violation of the Appointments Clause of Article II of the U.S. Constitution, and therefore the TTAB’s decision must be vacated. The acting Director of the USPTO, as intervenor, asserted that the ATJs were appointed lawfully.

USPTO Proposed Rule Outlines Process for New Ex Parte Trademark Proceedings on Nonuse and Other Changes Under Trademark Modernization Act

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) yesterday issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) titled “Changes To Implement Provisions of the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA) of 2020.” The Office is seeking input on the proposal, which would revise the rules in Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 2 and 7, and will be holding public roundtables to explain the amendments and answer questions. Here are some of the key proposed changes.

Peloton Wants to Cancel the Mark SPINNING for Being Generic – the TTAB Has Rarely Granted Such a Petition

Peloton’s petitions to cancel Mad Dogg’s registered trademarks for SPIN and SPINNING (in Classes 41 and 28) for genericism ask the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to do what it has rarely done before – cancel marks that were distinctive at the time of filing for losing distinctiveness due to the public’s overuse of the terms. While the TTAB has refused to register or cancel registered marks that were generic terms at the time the trademark applications were filed, the TTAB has rarely cancelled a mark that was distinctive when registered, but over time, became a generic term and lost its distinctiveness, as Peloton argues in its petitions. For example, “Kleenex” is often referenced when discussing generic brands, and while Kimberly-Clark Corporation has faced petitions for cancellation of its “Kleenex” mark, “Kleenex” has remained a registered mark of Kimberly-Clark Corporation since 1924.

Fourth Circuit Finds ‘Pretzel Crisps’ Plaintiffs are Not Bound to Federal Circuit Across Appeals from Distinct TTAB Decisions

On March 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in a Lanham Act statutory interpretation case. The case involved plaintiffs Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. and Princeton Vanguard, LLC (collectively “Princeton Vanguard”) and defendant Frito-Lay North America, Inc. (“Frito-Lay”). The district court held that a party to a trademark dispute who appeals a decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), resulting in the vacatur, remand and issuance of a new decision by the TTAB, may not then seek judicial review of that second decision in federal district court. The Fourth Circuit disagreed and ultimately reversed and remanded the case back to the district court.

Federal Circuit Affirms TTAB Dismissal of QuikTrip’s Opposition to Convenience Store Mark

On January 8, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) dismissing QuikTrip West, Inc.’s (QuikTrip) opposition to Weigel Stores, Inc.’s (Weigel) registration of the mark W WEIGEL’S KITCHEN NOW OPEN on the ground that there was not likelihood of confusion with QuikTrip’s registered design mark, QT KITCHENS (QuikTrip West, Inc. v. Weigel Stores, Inc.).

USPTO Publishes Final Rule Codifying Significant Trademark Fee Increases

The USPTO recently published a Final Rule setting new fees for trademark filings and TTAB proceedings, which will be effective January 2, 2021. The last time trademark fees were adjusted was about three years ago. The increases range from modest to fairly substantial. To file an application using the TEAS Plus option, the fee has increased from $225 per class to $250 per class, and the processing fee for failing to meet the TEAS Plus requirements has been reduced from $125 per class to $100 per class. However, the fee for TEAS Standard per class has jumped $75, from $275 to $350, which many trademark owners who commented found unreasonable.

Federal Circuit Affirms TTAB Holding Regarding Standing and Sanctions

On October 27, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) in Corcamore, LLC v. SFM, LLC. In an opinion authored by Circuit Judge Reyna, the CAFC affirmed the TTAB’s decision that SFM was entitled to bring and maintain a petition under 15 U.S.C. § 1064 because it met the requirements to bring a cancellation action against Corcamore’s registered mark, and that the TTAB did not abuse its discretion in imposing default judgment as a sanction.

Lessons from GRUYERE: A Roadmap for Proving Genericness from the TTAB

Following the widely discussed BOOKING.COM Supreme Court genericness case, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Board) took up a genericness case of its own. Int’l. Dairy et al. v. Interprofessionnel du Gruy?re addresses whether a geographic certification mark for GRUYERE is generic for cheese or eligible for registration as a certification mark. In addition to providing an extensive roadmap for how to prove a genericness claim, the case may also be of interest to food and beverage industry applicants seeking to obtain and enforce certification marks.

How One TTAB Case Reveals Continued Examination Flaws Post-Tam and Brunetti

A case that is currently before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), Proceeding No. 92071980, is no run-of-the-mill cancellation petition. Elevated Faith LLC v. GODISGHL, LLC,  concerns the right to register religious symbols and exposes critical flaws in trademark examination; in some ways it might be considered a progeny of Matal v. Tam and Iancu v. Brunetti. Naturally, it also involves a celebrity.

Guideposts for Determining Whether a Mark is Functioning as a Trademark

Under the Lanham Act, a trademark is any combination of words, names, symbols, or devices that are used to identify and distinguish goods or services and to indicate their source. Am. Express Co. v. Goetz, 515 F.3d 156, 159 (2nd Cir. 2008). Therefore, a trademark, in order to be deserving of protection as such, must be used in such a manner that it designates the source of the goods or services (even if that source is unknown). 15 U.S.C. § 1127. (Unless otherwise indicated, references to “trademarks” are intended to encompass “service marks” as well.)