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Chrysler and AMC trademarks


Thought this would be of interest...............

Daimler-Chrysler Suffers Setback in Fight for Old "AMC" Trademark

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January 21, 2010
Do you recall the old AMC trademark that stood for American Motors Corporation of AMC Pacer fame? Chrysler, who absorbed AMC in the 1980s, has been fighting with the owner of a current trademark registration for the AMC logo, and last week suffered a setback in its attempt to retake its old trademark. As a Miami Trademark Lawyerwith an active trademark prosecution docket, this case is of interest to me because it illustrates two topical subjects - the new standard for committing fraud upon the Trademark Office when obtaining a trademark registration and the recapture of an old mark by an opportunist. amclogo.jpg chrysler.jpg

Last week's decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Chrysler's Motion for Summary Judgment in its attempt to cancel the current trademark registration for the AMC logo (shown to the right), which is owned by an individual who registered the mark in 2005. Besides claiming that Chrysler had prior use, Chrysler also asserted fraud upon the Trademark Office since the registrant lied when submitting a false allegation of use during prosecution of the subject mark. On the issue of fraud, the TTAB stated that intent to deceive is an indispensable element of the analysis in a fraud case. See In re Bose Corporation, 476 F.3d 1331, 91 USPQ2d 1938, 1941 (Fed. Cir. 2009). The TTAB denied Chrysler's motion for summary judgment, stating: "In this case, petitioner has not carried its burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to respondent's intent to deceive. More particularly, petitioner has not introduced any direct evidence of respondent's intent to deceive the Office." Thus, this case shows the higher bar that must be met when pleading fraud upon the Trademark Office, in light of the 2009 Federal Circuit case of In re Bose.

This case further illustrates a phenomena that has been happening with more frequency. Savvy opportunists are registering old, abandoned marks that still have some notoriety or goodwill in public. It is not uncommon for a savvy entrepreneur to register or simply use an old, abandoned mark, usually in the context of a kitchy product, such as vintage T-shirts. There is nothing illegal in doing so, per se, since a trademark owner loses trademark rights when he stops using the mark in commerce. In this case, the registrant noticed that the AMC logo was long abandoned and was successful in obtaining a registration for the logo. This case shows that even an old mark can have value. Thus, trademark owners should give a second thought before abandoning use of a mark and should consider continued use of the mark, even if on a minor scale, in order to retain trademark rights and avoid situations such as these.

On second thought……
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Interesting.  I wonder how many years it takes for it to become "unused"?  I have heard that the logo showed up for a few years on Chrysler assembled products because the logo was part of the mold or on already existing parts.  I bet some boxes were still in commerce for many years it not a few still stashed somewhere in their inventory.

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