Chrysler and AMC trademarks
#10080 (In Topic #2830)
Daimler-Chrysler Suffers Setback in Fight for Old "AMC" Trademark
January 21, 2010
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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