Friday, July 26, 2013

Houndstooth shows support for Alabama, not confusion

Via the TTABlog, this precedential case rejects the University of Alabama's claim to own a houndstooth pattern.  The fact that people may wear houndstooth to support the university/honor the famous coach Bryant isn't the same thing as the pattern functioning as an indicator of source or sponsorship, nor is intent to remind intent to confuse:
The testimony submitted by the parties is in agreement to the extent the parties agree that the public associates houndstooth with Coach Bryant’s hat and fans wear houndstooth apparel to the University’s football games to show support for the University because they know that is “what Coach Bryant wore.” Regardless of their reasons for wearing houndstooth apparel however, there is no evidence the houndstooth of the fans’ apparel functions as a source or sponsorship indicator for the University’s goods and services, or that it was authorized by the University....While applicants selected their mark because Alabama fans associate the Houndstooth Pattern with Coach Bryant’s patterned fedora, there is no evidence that applicants sought to confuse consumers as to the source or
sponsorship of their products and, more importantly, applicants’ HOUNDSTOOTH MAFIA and Design mark is not similar to any of opposers’ asserted marks.
Nice to see these distinctions actually made, though the TTAB limits the scope of this recognition by emphasizing that there are many sources of houndstooth out there.

Also, what's up with Alabama and overreaching trademark claims? Wouldn't it be more useful to concentrate on winning games?

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