Trademark News & Screw-ups Viacom Didn't Infringe 'Bubble Guppies' Trademark, Sixth Circuit Rules

This dispute demonstrates the importance of use as a requirement for trademark protection. I'm not sure I agree with the decision but basically the court said to the plaintiffs, "You're so small, nobody really knows you, we're going to ignore your registered trademark rights and find that a much bigger and much more successful company didn't infringe on your trademark." The problem I have with this ruling is that trademark registration is specifically designed to provide protection to brand owners who would otherwise not be able to reach country-wide notoriety. Yes, the plaintiffs were a tiny operation that only made $12,000 in almost two decades, but they have diligently registered and renewed their two trademarks, they have continuously used their trademark, even if at a very small scale. The court found in favor of the defendants based on the idea that the plaintiff's mark was "commercially weak." Actually, as I write this, I can't help but wonder, "but what about intent-to-use trademarks?!" By very definition, there is no commercial strength to a trademark that hasn't been used in commerce yet. But the law provides protection to such brands. Why in the world then a registered trademark that is in use not have such protection, is beyond me. Here's the judgment if you're interested:

The video below features Andrei Mincov's commentary of this article.



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