IPWatchdog.com is in the process of transitioning to a newer version of our website. Please be patient with us while we work out all the kinks.

Posts Tagged: "ttab"

Spotify Successfully Opposes Two Marijuana-Related Trademark Applications

On January 11, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) issued a precedential decision finding dilution by blurring and sustaining two oppositions filed by Spotify AB against two marijuana-related trademark applications. Applicant U.S. Software Inc. filed trademark applications for POTIFY in standard characters, and stylized with a design on July 17, 2017, and May 2, 2018, respectively. These applications sought to register POTIFY for: “downloadable software for use in searching, creating and making compilations, rankings, ratings, reviews, referrals and recommendations relating to medical marijuana dispensaries and doctor’s offices and displaying and sharing a user’s location and finding, locating, and interacting with other users and place, in International Class 9.”

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. 

Third-Party Trademark Usage and Likelihood of Confusion

When examining trademark applications, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) assesses whether the applied-for trademark presents a likelihood of confusion among consumers as compared to other registered U.S. trademarks. In making this determination, the USPTO considers a list of factors first laid out in In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. 476 F.2d 1357 (C.C.P.A. 1973), commonly referred to as the Du Pont factors. One of the Du Pont factors is the number and nature of similar marks in use by third parties on similar goods or services. Id. at 1361. This article examines the significance of third-party usage evidence to a likelihood of confusion analysis.

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.

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.

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.

Federal Circuit Reverses TTAB Ruling on Standing for Petition to Cancel Condom Trademark

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled yesterday that Australian Therapeutic Supplies Pty. Ltd. has “a real interest” in cancelling the registration for NAKED for condoms, owned by Naked TM, LLC. While the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) had found that Australian lacked standing to petition for cancellation because “it had contracted away its proprietary rights in its unregistered marks,” the Court held that “a petitioner seeking to cancel a trademark registration establishes an entitlement to bring a cancellation proceeding under 15 U.S.C. § 1064 by demonstrating a real interest in the cancellation proceeding and a reasonable belief of damage regardless of whether petitioner lacks a proprietary interest in an asserted unregistered mark.” Judge Wallach dissented from the majority opinion, which was authored by Judge Reyna.

In re Forney Could Herald a Brighter Future for Color Marks

Trademarks consisting solely of a color applied to products or their packaging have been protectable under U.S. law for decades—if they meet a heightened standard for protection. Since the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Brothers, Inc., an applicant for a color mark has been required to prove that the color actually serves as an indicator of source in the minds of consumers by showing that the mark has acquired distinctiveness (otherwise known as secondary meaning). Yet that longstanding requirement no longer applies to all color marks, after a new decision by the Federal Circuit in In re Forney, which opens the door for the first time to certain color marks gaining protection as inherently distinctive.

CAFC Affirms TTAB Decision Finding Likelihood of Confusion Between STRATUS and STRATA Marks

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) that denied registration of Stratus Networks, Inc.’s trademark (the STRATUS mark) on grounds of likelihood of confusion with UBTA-UBET Communication Inc.’s registered trademark (the STRATA mark). The CAFC reviewed the Board’s factual findings for each of the considered DuPont factors, determined that the Board’s findings were supported by substantial evidence, and found no legal error in the Board’s determination.