Thursday, December 21, 2017

Vince McMahon's Alpha Entertainment, LLC Files Five New Trademark Applications for XFL

A couple days ago, David Bixenspan of Deadspin reported on rumors surrounding Vince McMahon's vision to bring back the XFL, a football league that operated as a joint venture with the WWE and NBC that that played one season in 2001. In that article, Mr. Bixenspan reported that the WWE confirmed Vince McMahon formed an entity called Alpha Entertainment "to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football." On December 16th, it appears Alpha Entertainment, LLC took additional steps in that direction.
On that date, Alpha Entertainment, LLC filed five trademark applications for XFL with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. And yes, they are related to professional football.

The core application for XFL covers "Entertainment services in the nature of professional football games and exhibitions" and "arranging and conducting athletic competitions, namely, professional football games and exhibitions," among other services in Class 41.

The other four applications cover a variety of ancillary goods/services, such as merchandise, including:
Alpha Entertainment, LLC filed each application on an intent-to-use basis, suggesting it is not using XFL in conjunction with the listed goods and services yet (which makes sense considering the league isn't active) but has a bona fide intention to do so in the near future. TMEP 806.01(b); 15 USC 1051(b). Before the USPTO will register these XFL marks, Alpha Entertainment will need to start using the marks in conjunction with the listed goods and services and submit sufficient proof of same to the USPTO. See TMEP 1103.

Back in September, Alpha Entertainment, LLC filed two identical applications (not sure why) for URFL covering goods similar to those listed in XFL application filed in Class 9. According to my quick search, those two URFL applications, and the five XFL applications described above, are the only federal trademark applications that have been filed by Alpha Entertainment, LLC.

Interestingly, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. also owns three pending trademark applications for XFL (none of those have yet registered, however). The WWE's applications also cover entertainment services (albeit primarily related to wrestling) as well as a variety of clothing items. Because those XFL applications are owned by a separate entity, the USPTO may refuse to register Alpha Entertainment, LLC's XFL applications under Section 2(d) of the Trademark Act if the USPTO deems the underlying goods and services to be related. See TMEP 1207 et seq. In other words, the USPTO doesn't register marks that are confusingly similar to previously filed marks, so the WWE's XFL applications might prevent the registration of Alpha Entertainment, LLC's XFL marks.

We'll find out in approximately three months whether the WWE's pending XFL applications block Alpha Entertainment, LLC's XFL applications. If so (and maybe even regardless), Alpha Entertainment and the WWE will need to determine who owns the XFL mark. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Is Reading Rainbow Coming Back as Reading Rainbow 2.0? WNED Files Trademark Applications for READING RAINBOW 2.0, 7 Other Reading Rainbow-Related Marks

Reading Rainbow, the classic children's television that aired for twenty years through the 1980's, 90's and early 00's, may be making a comeback as Reading Rainbow 2.0, if recent trademark applications are any indication.

On December 8th, the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association (WNED) filed federal trademark applications for READING RAINBOW 2.0 and seven other Reading Rainbow-related trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The applications filed by WNED last Friday are for:
In addition to the standard character mark applications above (meaning those applications cover only the words, not a particular design), WNED filed two more applications, one for each design seen below:
Mark ImageMark Image
The goods and services covered by these applications vary slightly, but all appear to be related to the television show. For example, most of the applications cover "Audio materials in the fields of education and teaching" in Class 9. The READING RAINBOW 2.0 application covers "Entertainment services, namely, creation and distribution of a TV series" (Class 41) and "Providing a website featuring streaming of audio and video material on the Internet" (Class 38).

WNED filed all of these applications on an intent-to-use basis, suggesting (but not necessarily meaning) it is not yet using these marks in commerce in conjunction with the goods and services but has a bona fide intention to do so in the near future. TMEP 806.01(b); 15 USC 1051(b).

WNED owns several other registrations for READING RAINBOW, including registrations covering the distribution of a TV series and related merchandise. According to the Reading Rainbow website (operated by WNED), WNED recently resolved legal disputes with the previous host and executive producer of Reading Rainbow (LeVar Burton) and is "currently working on the next chapter of Reading Rainbow and will continue its mission of fostering education for a new generation." 

Is the next chapter Reading Rainbow 2.0? Pay attention to these trademark applications to find out.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Law Firm Files Applications to Register #METOO and #METOO CLAIMS as Trademarks for Legal Services

As I've blogged about before, it is not uncommon to see a rush of trademark applications for various words or phrases circulating in the media. For example, back in June I blogged about a swarm of trademark applications for COVFEFE.

Most recently, it seems a law firm is seeking to capitalize on the #METOO social media campaign highlighting those who have come forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault. The #METOO campaign is associated with "The Silence Breakers," who Time Magazine just recognized as the 2017 Person of the Year.
On December 1st, the Virginia law firm filed two federal trademark applications - one for #METOO and the other for #METOO CLAIMS, both in Class 45 for "legal consultation services." The firm filed the applications on an intent-to-use basis, suggesting it is not currently using these phrases as trademarks in conjunction with the listed services yet but has a bona fide intention to do so in the near future, so not much else can be gleaned from the applications. However, before these marks can register, the law firm must start using them as trademarks and submit sufficient proof of the same to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. TMEP 902.

According to my quick search, two other trademark applications for #METOO have been filed since late October - one covering fragrances and cosmetics and the other covering rubber or silicone wristbands. I would not be surprised to see more filed in the future.