Thursday, January 20, 2005

Leo Stoller Faces Formidable Foe in TTAB "STEALTH" Bowl Battle

Jay Spiegel, intellectual property attorney and sometime inventor, is locked in a gridiron battle with frequent TTAB litigant Leo Stoller. Recent filings in Central Mfg. Co. v Premium Products, Inc., Opposition No. 91159950, indicate that this is no friendly scrimmage.

The opposition relates to one of Spiegel’s inventions, the GROUND ZERO® brand football kicking tee, used by every NFL team for the past six years.

Actual GROUND ZERO® brand tee used by Adam Vinatieri
in New England Patriots' Super Bowl XXXVI victory

Recently, Spiegel got the idea of selling his kicking tee in the color green, so that the tee would blend into the grass on a football field and thus might reduce distraction of the kicker. Because of the “stealthy” nature of a green tee placed on green grass, Spiegel chose the mark GROUND ZERO STEALTH for this new version, and he filed a trademark application for that mark in the name of his company, Premium Products, Inc., identifying the goods as “football kicking tees in a green color.”

Central Mfg. Co, owned by Stoller, has opposed the GROUND ZERO STEALTH application on the basis of Central’s ownership of 34 federal registrations and 15 pending applications for marks comprising or including the word STEALTH for a variety of goods and services, several in the sporting goods class.

In a recently-filed memorandum in opposition to Central’s summary judgment motion, Premium describes Central’s STEALTH portfolio as “a mile wide and a millimeter deep.” According to Premium, Central’s evidence of actual use of these marks is “either scarce or non-existent.” Moreover, although Central claims to have dozens of license agreements under its STEALTH marks, it apparently has no written evidence of any steps taken to control the quality of the goods/services offered under the marks. Premium also challenges Central's claims that it has a "family" of STEALTH marks and that its STEALTH marks are famous. Coupling these factual issues with the differences in the involved marks and goods, Premium contends that Central's summary judgment motion must be denied.

Stoller claims that Northrup Grumman
uses the STEALTH mark under agreement with Central

For any trademark practitioner who has encountered or will encounter Mr. Stoller and his companies, the papers filed in the GROUND ZERO STEALTH opposition are a treasure trove of information regarding Stoller and his "policing" operations. This is definitely one turf tussle that bears watching.


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