Wrestler Ric Aptitude’s Try to Register NATURE BOY for Attire Will get Pinned by USPTO
WoooOOOooo! Legendary skilled wrestler Ric Aptitude (aka “The Nature Boy”) (“Aptitude”) was lately denied trademark registration on the Principal Register by the US Patent and Trademark Workplace (USPTO) for the NATURE BOY trademark for t-shirts and associated clothes, forcing the previous professional wrestling heavyweight champ to faucet out. (In re Ric Aptitude, LLC, Serial No. 87884420 (TTAB Apr. 6, 2020) (non-precedential)).
Broadly thought to be one of many all-time nice skilled wrestlers, Aptitude helped carry the game to nationwide prominence over the span of his 40-year profession. He has been formally acknowledged by the WWE as a 16-time World Champion: eight-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, six-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and two-time WWF Champion. He’s simply acknowledged by his bleach-blonde hair, unmistakable rants and bluster, splendidly garish robes and notorious ending transfer, the Determine-4 Leg Lock. At all times “stylin’ and profilin’”, Aptitude has used the moniker “The Nature Boy” to propel his flamboyant persona for the reason that 1970’s.
In April 2018, Aptitude filed an utility with the USPTO in search of to register the NATURE BOY mark for varied lessons of products, together with cellphone instances, seaside towels, and Class 25 clothes objects comparable to t-shirts, tank-tops, and sweatshirts. In August 2018, the Analyzing Lawyer refused to register Aptitude’s mark for the Class 25 clothes as a result of it resembled the present mark NATURE BOYS (registered in 2016 for fishing-related attire) and would seemingly trigger shopper confusion between the marks. Nonetheless, the Analyzing Lawyer did approve the appliance to register the NATURE BOY for different lessons of products (e.g., cellphone instances and seaside towels).
Underneath the federal Lanham Act, the USPTO could bar registration of an applied-for mark if it’s so much like a registered mark that it’s seemingly customers could be confused, mistaken, or deceived as to the industrial supply of the products and/or providers of the events. See 15 U.S.C. §1052(d). Chance of confusion is decided on a case-by-case foundation by making use of a multifactor take a look at. This take a look at, which is measured utilizing the “DuPont Elements,” considers 13 components, together with the similarity or dissimilarity of the marks of their entireties as to look, the celebrity of the prior mark, and the quantity and nature of comparable marks in use on comparable items. Because the TTAB defined, not all the probability of confusion components are related to each trademark examination, and solely components of significance to the actual mark want be thought of, which on this case, included the similarities between the marks and the similarities between the products and providers.
Declaring this registration battle as a greatest two-out-of-three falls, Aptitude shook off this preliminary defeat and filed an attraction with the TTAB (versus bringing his attraction to the casual wrestling tribunal often called Piper’s Pit). Aptitude argued that, in regards to the similarity of the marks, the Analyzing Lawyer cited no proof when discussing the industrial which means and connotation of the NATURE BOY mark, relying solely on the truth that Aptitude’s mark is the singular type of the NATURE BOYS mark and downplaying the truth that attributable to Aptitude’s fame, the general public would affiliate NATURE BOY with the well-known wrestler himself and never essentially with NATURE BOYS fishing attire.
In the principle occasion, the TTAB, enjoying the heel, affirmed the company’s refusal to register Aptitude’s mark NATURE BOY for clothes.
In breaking down the similarity and dissimilarity and nature of the products, the TTAB discovered that the already-registered mark NATURE BOYS had an outline of products that included “shirts” typically, and thus was not restricted to “fishing shirts” (and would essentially embrace t-shirts and tank tops). As such, the TTAB discovered that description of products regarding Aptitude’s and the already-registered NATURE BOYS mark have been legally an identical. When it got here to shaking unfastened from this broad definition of “shirts” on this occasion, Aptitude couldn’t break the TTAB’s arm bar. The TTAB concluded that there needn’t be a similarity as to every product listed within the description of products, and that it was “ample for a refusal based mostly on probability of confusion that we discover any merchandise encompassed by the identification of products in a specific class within the utility and registration associated.”
The second issue thought of was the similarity of channels of commerce and lessons of purchasers of the merchandise. Right here, the Board shortly pinned Mr. Aptitude towards the turnbuckle, stating that as a result of the products described within the utility are legally an identical to items lined by the NATURE BOYS registered mark, there’s a presumption that the channels of commerce and lessons of purchasers are the identical.
The ultimate issue that the Board thought of was the similarity or dissimilarity of the marks, specializing in the probability of confusion of the marks of their look, sound, connotation, and industrial impression. Because the TTAB famous, like the primary issue, similarity in any one among these components is ample to seek out that the marks are confusingly comparable. Extra particularly, the TTAB said that the correct take a look at will not be a side-by-side comparability of the marks, however as an alternative whether or not the marks are sufficiently comparable when it comes to their industrial impression, “such that individuals who encounter the marks could be prone to assume a connection between the events.” On this case, the Board famous that the one distinction between Mr. Aptitude’s NATURE BOY mark and the already-registered mark NATURE BOYS – each of which would seem on t-shirts – is the pluralization of the phrase “Boy.”
With nobody to tag to usher in a brand new grappler, Aptitude tried to stage a late comeback with a last transfer, arguing that whereas the marks could have similarities, the marks have totally different connotations since NATURE BOY refers solely to himself, the well-known wrestler. In essence, Aptitude argued that as a result of customers acknowledge NATURE BOY as his nickname, the celebrity of the mark ought to change the which means and industrial impression and the Board’s evaluation. The Board shortly put this argument on its again and Aptitude into submission, stating that the principal consideration is the probability of confusion “based mostly on the marks that seem on the drawing pages and in reference to the outline of products within the utility and registration at problem.” In inserting Aptitude in an inescapable cradle, the Board concluded: “[B]ecause neither the mark, nor the outline of products, refers to any particular person, there is no such thing as a foundation on which we will discover that the which means and industrial impression of Applicant’s mark NATURE BOY differs from that of the registered mark NATURE BOYS.”
In sum, Aptitude failed to indicate that within the context of t-shirts and tank-tops that NATURE BOY has a particular which means in reference to Aptitude the wrestler. The Board said that the calculus is perhaps totally different if Aptitude’s clothes was restricted to “wrestling shirts” or “wrestling tank-tops,” or presumably if the applied-for mark was one thing akin to THE NATURE BOY RIC FLAIR.
Whereas Aptitude was handed a defeat by the hands of TTAB, he should, amongst different issues, search a rematch on the Federal Circuit – certainly, as Aptitude was wont to boast: “To be the person, you gotta beat the person.” Regardless, with Aptitude nonetheless having the NATURE BOY mark registered for different lessons of products, and maybe desirous to create new branding alternatives based mostly on his renown, it’s unlikely that this will likely be his final bout within the USPTO squared circle.