Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

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Lottery, a state agency, began operating traditional lottery drawing games and instant lottery scratch-off games in North Carolina in 2006. It introduces new scratch-off games on the first Tuesday of each month and asserts that it has continuously used the mark FIRST TUESDAY since July 2013 in print materials, on its Website, and on point-of-sale displays. In 2014, Lottery applied for registration of the mark FIRST TUESDAY for “Lottery cards; scratch cards for playing lottery games” and for “Lottery services,” submitting specimens that have explanatory text such as “[n]ew scratch-offs” or “[n]ew scratch-offs the first Tuesday of every month.” The examining attorney refused registration, finding that the mark used in the context of Lottery’s promotional materials “merely describes a feature of [its] goods and services, namely, new versions of the goods and services are offered the first Tuesday of every month.” The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the Federal Circuit affirmed. Lottery’s promotional materials make clear that “new scratch-off games are offered on the first Tuesday of every month” and that fact would “be so understood by the relevant consumers who encounter the designation FIRST TUESDAY.” No “mental thought or multi-step reasoning is required to reach a conclusion as to the nature of the involved goods and services.” View "In re: North Carolina Lottery" on Justia Law

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Symbolic owns the mark I AM (typed drawing) for “clothing, namely, hats, caps, socks, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, shorts, pants, sweatpants, jeans, swimwear, swimsuits, beachwear and footwear, namely, shoes, athletic footwear, boots, clogs, sneakers and sandals” in class 25, and owns the mark WILL.I.AM (standard characters) for certain goods in class 9 and services in class 41. Symbolic’s predecessor-in-interest (William Adams) filed trademark applications for registration of the mark for goods in classes 3, 9, and 14 on an intent-to-use basis under 15 U.S.C. 1051(b). The applications were amended during prosecution to include the statement “associated with William Adams, professionally known as ‘will.i.am.’” The examining attorney refused registration on the ground of likelihood of confusion with previously registered I AM marks pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1052(d) for the same or similar goods. The Board affirmed, noting that Adams is the well-known front man for the music group The Black Eyed Peas and is known as will.i.am but that the record did not establish that Adams is “widely known by ‘i.am’ or that ‘i.am’ and ‘will.i.am’ are used interchangeably by either Mr. Adams or the public.” The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the “likelihood of confusion” finding. View "In re: I.AM.Symbolic, LLC" on Justia Law

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Kerry is the CEO of KEI, the son of Dale Earnhardt (a professional race car driver who died in 2001), and the stepson of Teresa. KEI's ventures include the EARNHARDT COLLECTION lifestyle brand. KEI licensed that mark to Schumacher for use in connection with custom home design and construction. Teresa, Dale's widow, owns trademark registrations and common law rights containing the mark DALE EARNHARDT in connection with various goods and services and has sold licensed merchandise totaling millions of dollars since 2001. Teresa filed notices of opposition to KEI's trademark application. The Trademark Board found that Teresa did not establish a likelihood of confusion and that EARNHARDT COLLECTION is not primarily merely a surname, 15 U.S.C. 1052(e)(4). The Board found that “collection” is “not the common descriptive or generic name” for KEI’s goods and services. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board's decision could be understood as finding that “collection” is neither generic nor merely descriptive of KEI’s goods and services, and adding “collection” to “Earnhardt” alters the surname significance of Earnhardt in the mark as a whole; it could be understood as finding that a mark consisting of a surname and a merely descriptive term is registrable as a matter of law if the descriptive term is not generic. View "Earnhardt v. Kerry Earnhardt, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1999, Lyons and Gillette discussed possibly forming a veterinary specialist organization (VSO) for treating athletic animals. For American Veterinary Medical Association accreditation, veterinarians must form an organizing committee and submit a letter of intent. Lyons, Gillette, and others formed a committee. By 2002, the committee began using the mark as the name of the intended VSO. Lyons participated in drafting the letter of intent, the accreditation petition, and bylaws and articles of incorporation. Lyons left the committee and sought registration of the mark for “veterinary education services namely conducting classes, seminars, clinical seminars, conferences, workshops and internships and externships in veterinary sports medicine and veterinary rehabilitation,” based on actual use, alleging first use in commerce in 1996. In 2006, the PTO registered the mark. In 2010, the VSO, “American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation” received provisional recognition; it petitioned to cancel Lyons’s registration on grounds of priority of use and likelihood of confusion, 15 U.S.C. 1052(d), misrepresentation of source, 15 U.S.C. 1064, and fraud. Meanwhile, the district court dismissed an infringement action by Lyons and ordered the PTO to reject Lyons’s application for Principal Register registration, but declined to cancel her Supplemental Register registration. The Board later concluded that Lyons was not the mark’s owner and that her underlying application was void. The Federal Circuit affirmed. In ownership disputes surrounding service marks as between a departing member and a remnant group, the factors are: the parties’ objective intentions or expectations; who the public associates with the mark; and to whom the public looks to stand behind the quality of goods or services offered under the mark. View "Lyons v. American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation" on Justia Law