UnIntellectual Property (UnIP): Trademark for Suction Cup Design

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, which stemmed from the lawsuit by a trademark applicant against the Judge in the Trademark and Trial Appeal Board (TTAB) proceeding, who had affirmed the Examining Attorney’s refusal to register the trademark application for a suction cup design.

The Court analyzed the typical functionality factors, including:

1. Whether a utility patent exists that discloses the utilitarian advantages of the design sought to be registered;
2. Whether applicant’s advertising touts the utilitarian advantages of the design;
3. Whether alternative designs are available that serve the same utilitarian purpose; and
4. Whether the design results from a comparatively simple or inexpensive method of manufacture.
Having a registered utility patent for the design immediately placed the Plaintiff in a tough position.  The Court went on to analyze each factor and granted summary judgment to Defendant, thus finding that the suction cup design was not entitled to trademark protection.
Surprised?  I am not, but I appreciate the dedication of the Plaintiff, wow.
Adams Mfg. Corp. v. Rea, CIV.A. 12-1430, 2014 WL 978116 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 12, 2014).


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