1203.03(c)(iii) False Suggestion of a Connection: Case References
False suggestion of a connection was found in the following cases: In re Shinnecock Smoke Shop, 571 F.3d 1171, 91 USPQ2d 1218 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (holding SHINNECOCK BRAND FULL FLAVOR and SHINNECOCK BRAND LIGHTS, both for cigarettes, falsely suggest a connection with the Shinnecock Indian Nation); In re Sauer, 27 USPQ2d 1073 (TTAB 1993), aff’d per curiam, 26 F.3d 140 (Fed. Cir. 1994) (finding registration of BO BALL for oblong shaped leather ball with white stitching properly refused under §2(a), since use of “Bo” would be recognized by purchasers as reference to football and baseball player Bo Jackson, and there was no connection between Jackson and applicant); In re Jackson Int'l Trading Co. Kurt D. Bruhl GmbH & Co. KG, 103 USPQ2d 1417 (TTAB 2012) (affirming §2(a) refusal to register the mark BENNY GOODMAN COLLECTION THE FINEST QUALITY (stylized) for fragrance and cosmetics because the mark falsely suggests a connection with the deceased musician Benny Goodman; the record showed that Benny Goodman’s estate has a business representative that grants people the use of his name and/or persona); In re Peter S. Herrick, P.A., 91 USPQ2d 1505 (TTAB 2009) (Board affirmed §2(a) refusal, finding U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE and seal design for attorney services falsely suggests a connection with the government agency formerly known as the United States Customs Service and now known as the United States Customs and Border Protection); Hornby v. TJX Cos., Inc., 87 USPQ2d 1411 (TTAB 2008) (affirming refusal of registration of TWIGGY for children’s clothing, on the ground that it would falsely suggest a connection with the internationally known British model and actress who was a major celebrity in the late 1960s, finding that she retained a sufficient degree of fame or reputation that a connection would still be presumed by consumers seeing the mark TWIGGY on children’s clothing as of the date on which respondent’s registration issued in 2000); Association Pour La Def. et la Promotion de L'Oeuvre de Marc Chagall dite Comite Marc Chagall v. Bondarchuk, 82 USPQ2d 1838 (TTAB 2007) (granting petition to cancel registration of MARC CHAGALL for vodka because the totality of the evidence of record established a false suggestion of a connection with the painter Marc Chagall); In re White, 80 USPQ2d 1654 (TTAB 2006) (affirming refusal of MOHAWK for cigarettes under §2(a), on the ground that it would falsely suggest a connection with the federally recognized tribe the St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians of New York); In re White, 73 USPQ2d 1713 (TTAB 2004) (holding APACHE, for cigarettes, falsely suggests a connection with the nine federally recognized Apache tribes); In re Urbano, 51 USPQ2d 1776 (TTAB 1999) (holding SYDNEY 2000, used for advertising and business services and communication services, falsely suggests connection with Olympic Games, since general public would recognize phrase as referring unambiguously to Olympic Games to be held in Sydney, Australia, in 2000; entire organization that comprises Olympic games qualifies as “institution.”); In re N. Am. Free Trade Ass’n, 43 USPQ2d 1282 (TTAB 1997) (holding NAFTA, used on “promotion of trade and investment” services, falsely suggests connection with North American Free Trade Agreement; NAFTA qualifies as institution because it encompasses treaty, supplemental agreements, and various commissions, committees and offices created by those documents); In re Sloppy Joe’s Int’l Inc., 43 USPQ2d 1350 (TTAB 1997) (holding use of mark SLOPPY JOE’S, with design that includes portrait of Ernest Hemingway, falsely suggests connection with deceased writer); Bd. of Tr. of Univ. of Alabama v. BAMA-Werke Curt Baumann, 231 USPQ 408 (TTAB 1986) (granting petition to cancel registration of BAMA, for shoes, slippers, stockings, socks, and insoles, and finding that the evidence of record indicated that BAMA points uniquely to the University of Alabama and thus falsely suggests a connection with the University); In re Cotter & Co., 228 USPQ 202 (TTAB 1985) (holding WESTPOINT, for shotguns and rifles, to falsely suggest a connection with an institution, the United States Military Academy); Buffett v. Chi-Chi’s, Inc., 226 USPQ 428 (TTAB 1985) (denying applicant’s motion for summary judgment since evidence of record supported an association of MARGARITAVILLE with the public persona of opposer Jimmy Buffett); In re U.S. Bicentennial Soc'y, 197 USPQ 905 (TTAB 1978) (holding U.S. BICENTENNIAL SOCIETY, for ceremonial swords, to falsely suggest a connection with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and the United States government); In re Nat'l Intelligence Acad., 190 USPQ 570 (TTAB 1976) (holding NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ACADEMY, for educational and instructional services in intelligence gathering for law enforcement officers, to falsely suggest a connection with the United States government); In re Nat’l Collection & Credit Control, 152 USPQ 200 (TTAB 1966) (holding the word “national” along with an outline representation of the United States or a representation of an eagle used for collection and credit services falsely suggests a connection with United States government).
False suggestion of a connection was not found in the following cases: Univ. of Notre Dame du Lac v. J.C. Gourmet Food Imps. Co., 703 F.2d 1372, 1377, 217 USPQ 505, 509 (Fed. Cir. 1983), aff’g 213 USPQ 594 (TTAB 1982) (holding NOTRE DAME and design, for cheese, not to falsely suggest a connection with the University of Notre Dame. “As the Board noted, ‘Notre Dame’ is not a name solely associated with the University. It serves to identify a famous and sacred religious figure and is used in the names of churches dedicated to Notre Dame, such as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France. Thus it cannot be said that the only ‘person’ which the name possibly identifies is the University and that the mere use of NOTRE DAME by another appropriates its identity.”); Bd. of Trs. of Univ. of Ala. v. Pitts, 107 USPQ2d 2001, 2028 (TTAB 2013) (finding opposers failed to prove the mark HOUNDSTOOTH MAFIA, displayed on a houndstooth-patterned background, falsely suggests a connection with the University of Alabama or Coach Bryant); In re MC MC S.r.l., 88 USPQ2d 1378, 1381 (TTAB 2008) (reversing §2(a) refusal of MARIA CALLAS for jewelry and other goods, because the record contained contradictory evidence as to the existence of anyone currently possessing rights in the name “Maria Callas,” and resolving doubt in favor of applicant “removes the possibility that we might be denying registration to an applicant based on non-existent rights,” and because a person or entity claiming rights in a name or persona has recourse since §2(a) is not time barred); In re Los Angeles Police Revolver & Athletic Club, Inc., 69 USPQ2d 1630 (TTAB 2004) (holding slogan TO PROTECT AND TO SERVE, used by applicant Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, Inc., does not falsely suggest a connection with the Los Angeles Police Department, where evidence showed an actual longstanding commercial connection, publicly acknowledged and endorsed by both parties); Internet Inc. v. Corp. for Nat’l Research Initiatives, 38 USPQ2d 1435 (TTAB 1996) (holding cancellation petitioners failed to state claim for relief where they have not alleged, and cannot reasonably allege, that the term INTERNET points uniquely and unmistakably to their own identity or persona);Ritz Hotel Ltd. v. Ritz Closet Seat Corp., 17 USPQ2d 1466, 1471 (TTAB 1990) (holding RIT-Z in stylized form, for toilet seats, not to falsely suggest a connection with opposer, the Board observing that there was “no evidence of record directed to showing a connection of applicant’s mark with opposer corporation, The Ritz Hotel Limited”); In re Nuclear Research Corp., 16 USPQ2d 1316 (TTAB 1990) (holding NRC and design, for radiation and chemical agent monitors, electronic testers, and nuclear gauges, not to falsely suggest a connection with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in view of applicant’s use of NRC long prior to the inception of that agency); NASA v. Bully Hill Vineyards, Inc., 3 USPQ2d 1671, 1676 (TTAB 1987) (dismissing opposition to the registration of SPACE SHUTTLE for wines and finding “shuttle” to be a generic term for a space vehicle or system. “Where a name claimed to be appropriated does not point uniquely and unmistakably to that party’s personality or ‘persona,’ there can be no false suggestion.”); In re Mohawk Air Serv. Inc., 196 USPQ 851 (TTAB 1977) (holding MOHAWK 298 to not falsely suggest a connection with the U.S. Army and the Army’s use of the term “Mohawk” to identify one of its airplanes, since there was no evidence of record that the Army continuously used that term since 1958, that the public is aware of such use, or that the public would associate “Mohawk” named airplanes with the Army); NASA v. Record Chem. Co. Inc., 185 USPQ 563 (TTAB 1975) (dismissing opposition to registrations of APOLLO 8 for moth preventatives and mothproofing agent-air freshener because, while NASA is a juristic person and prior user of the terms APOLLO and APOLLO 8 for its space missions, it is unlikely that the average purchaser of applicant’s goods would assume NASA to be source or sponsorship of the goods or mistakenly believe that the goods are of NASA space exploration technology); FBI v. Societe: “M.Bril & Co.”, 172 USPQ 310 (TTAB 1971) (dismissing opposition to registration of FBI FABRICATION BRIL INTERNATIONAL for clothing since it is unreasonable that the public would assume applicant’s goods originate with, are sponsored or endorsed by, or associated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, finding that “FBI” represents “Fabrication Bril International” and purchasers will see the entire composite mark on the goods and not just “FBI,” and noting that both the United States government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are juristic persons); In re Horwitt, 125 USPQ 145, 146 (TTAB 1960) (holding U. S. HEALTH CLUB registrable for vitamin tablets. “Considering both the nature of the mark and the goods, it is concluded that the purchasing public would not be likely to mistakenly assume that the United States Government is operating a health club, that it is distributing vitamins, or that it has approved applicant’s goods.”); Lucien Piccard Watch Corp. v. Since 1868 Crescent Corp., 314 F. Supp. 329, 165 USPQ 459 (S.D.N.Y. 1970) (holding DA VINCI not to falsely suggest a connection with the deceased artist Leonardo Da Vinci).