June 20, 2023

Joel Samuel’s article on the TTAB’s “Rapunzel” ruling published by Law360

A ruling rejecting a challenge to the trademark “Rapunzel” could signify a shift in philosophy at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).

That’s according to Harness IP principal Joel Samuels, based in St. Louis, who authored a Law360 article on June 14 titled, “TTAB’s ‘Rapunzel’ Ruling May Stem From Towering Caseload.”

The case involves United Trademark Holdings Inc., which sought to register the trademark “Rapunzel” for dolls and figures in International Class 28. Trademark law professor Rebecca Curtin opposed the application, alleging fraudulent application and failure to function as a trademark, arguing “Rapunzel” is too generic and merely descriptive as it’s “synonymous with the name of a well-known childhood fairy-tale character.”

Curtin’s challenge fell flat, but Samuels’ article explains the outcome could have been different if a competitor in the doll-making world had brought the exact same claims. That’s because the TTAB never got to review the merits of Curtin’s claims, as she failed to point to any evidence of competitive harm. Rather, she appeared to be representing a class of people who simply disliked and opposed the trademark.

By clarifying that consumers don’t generally have standing to challenge trademarks before the TTAB, Samuels notes that the ruling “could be the board’s way of ensuring that it is using its resources as effectively as possible — making sure that the cases it does spend time on have merit.”

For the full article, you may click here.




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