Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Ruling

What areas of law may trademark experts consult on?  These expert witnesses may opine on trademarks and trade dress, trademark infringement, trademark registration, trademark litigation, and more.  In the news, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled six federal trademark registrations owned by the NFL Redskins team.  In Amanda Blackhorse, Marcus Briggs-Cloud, Philip Gover, Jillian Pappan, and Courtney Tsotigh v. Pro-Football, Inc., Cancellation No. 92046185,  the TTAB wrote:

Petitioners, five Native Americans, have brought this cancellation proceeding pursuant to section 14 of the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. § 1064(c). They seek to cancel respondent’s registrations issued between 1967 and 1990 for trademarks consisting in whole or in part of the term REDSKINS for professional football-related services on the ground that the registrations were obtained contrary to Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), which prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute. In its answer, defendant, Pro-Football, Inc., asserted various affirmative defenses including laches.

As explained below, we decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, in violation of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a). This decision concerns only the statutory right to registration under Section 2(a). We lack statutory authority to issue rulings concerning the right to use trademarks.

About Karen Olson

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