Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Kid Rock Files Applications to Register KID ROCK'S REDNECK RYE, KID ROCK'S REDNECK WHISKEY as Trademarks

Kid Rock might not actually be running for Senate (despite filing an application to register KID ROCK FOR SENATE as a trademark last year), but he may actually be expanding his line of alcoholic beverages, if recent trademark applications are any indication. On May 24th, Robert J. Ritchie (aka Kid Rock) filed applications to register KID ROCK'S REDNECK RYE and KID ROCK'S REDNECK WHISKEY as trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Not surprisingly, each application covers "distilled spirits" in Class 33. The rocker filed each application on an intent-to-use basis, suggesting he is not currently using these trademarks to sell distilled spirits but has a bona fide intention to do so in the near future. TMEP 806.01(b); 15 USC 1051(b). Before these applications can mature into registrations, Kid Rock must actually start using these designations as trademarks and submit sufficient proof of same to the USPTO.

Before that can happen, however, Kid Rock might need to deal with a couple issues. One is that the USPTO is likely to require Robert Ritchie to submit his written consent to the use and registration of a trademark containing KID ROCK. Such consent is required because Section 2(c) of the Trademark Act prohibits the registration of any name, portrait, or signature that identifies a particular living individual without that individual's written consent. 15 USC 1052(c). That prohibition applies not only to full names, but also to "first names, surnames, shortened names, pseudonyms, stage names, titles, or nicknames, if there is evidence that the name identifies a specific living individual who is publicly connected with the business in which the mark is used, or who is so well known that such a connection would be assumed." TMEP 1206.01. The USPTO initially refused to register the KID ROCK FOR SENATE application, for example, in part because this written consent was not submitted (and still hasn't been).

Another potential issue is a rejection of this application based on a likelihood of confusion with existing KID ROCK trademark registrations. This is not an issue if similar trademarks are owned by the same party, but in Kid Rock's case, Top Dog Records, Inc. owns some KID ROCK trademark applications and registrations (including a pending application for KID ROCK'S MADE IN DETROIT covering "restaurant and bar services"). Because the whiskey and rye applications are in Robert J. Ritchie's name personally, and other KID ROCK applications/registrations are in a record company's name, the trademarks are owned by two different owners (in the USPTO's eyes), which requires (under Section 2(d) of the Trademark Act) the USPTO to refuse to register the latter filed applications in light of the existing applications or registrations, if the latter filed applications are deemed to be confusingly similar to the existing applications and registrations. For example, the KID ROCK FOR SENATE application (which covered apparel and was in Robert J. Ritchie's name) was initially refused registration because of a perceived likelihood of confusion with an existing registration for KID ROCK, owned by Top Dog Records, Inc., that also covered apparel.

These are not the first alcohol-related trademark applications filed by Robert J. Ritchie. The rocker currently owns registrations for AMERICAN BADASS BEER COMPANY (and a logo), BADASS BEER, BADASS, and an eagle design, all covering "beer."

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