SW Legal Educational Publishing

Individual Citizen Can Challenge Registration of O.J. Simpson's Trademarks
Description The Federal Circuit reversed a holding of the Trademark Board that denied the right of a citizen to oppose the registration of O.J. Simpson as a trademark. Immoral and scandalous material may not be registered under the Lanham Act. That standard is decided by public opinion, not the personal views of members of the Board.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Trademark, Opposition to Registration, Standing
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Orenthal James Simpson filed for registration of the trademarks O.J. Simpson, O.J., and The Juice, with the Patent and Trademark Office. Ritchie filed an opposition to the registrations on the grounds that surnames are not registrable under the Lanham Act and that the marks are immoral or scandalous, which would fail the requirements of the Lanham Act. The Trademark Board dismissed the opposition, holding that Ritchie did not have standing to oppose them. Ritchie appealed.
Decision Reversed. The Trademark Board, "in carrying out its duties under the Lanham Act, may not decide whether a registration is scandalous simply by asserting its own views and values. Instead, the Board has a duty to obtain the view of the affected public. Since Mr. Ritchie alleges that he is such a person, the Board's refusal to give him a hearing is inconsistent with its duty." Whether a mark comprises immoral and scandalous matter is determined in the context of contemporary attitudes, which means "a substantial composite of the public."
Citation Ritchie v. Simpson, - F.3d - (1999 WL 134919, Fed. Cir.)
or
170 F.3d 1092 (Fed. Cir., 1999)

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