Friday, February 27, 2009

Montana Senator Again Blocks "LAST BEST PLACE" Registrations

Montana Senator Max Baucus announced (here) on February 25th that he has once again included language in the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus appropriation bill that would prohibit the PTO from expending any funds toward registration of the mark LAST BEST PLACE. Former Senator Conrad Burns of the Big Sky State first championed in 2006, when Congress included a provision in the Department of Commerce appropriations bill that prohibited the use of any department funds to "register, issue, transfer or enforce any trademark of the phrase 'Last Best Place.'" After an unfavorable ruling at the district court level that the provision improperly circumvented the Lanham Act, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in 2007 that Congress had properly acted to prevent registration of the mark and that the PTO had likewise acted properly in cancelling two registrations and suspending four applications and two oppositions proceedings involving the mark. [TTABlogged here]. Last Best Beef, LLC v. Dudas, 84 USPQ2d 1699 (4th Cir. 2007).

Montanans are obviously highly protective of the slogan “Last Best Place,” which is commonly used to describe the state. Senator Burns asserted that the mark THE LAST BEST PLACE “belongs to the State of Montana.” Senator Baucus and his cohort, Senator David Tester, agree:

"Trying to trademark 'The Last Best Place' is as ludicrous as someone trying to patent a Montana sunset," Baucus said. "If I have to insert this provision for the next 20 years, I will because that is how important this saying is to our state."

"When you walk down a main street in any Montana town, or have a good conversation at a coffee shop, you know Montana truly is 'The Last Best Place,' Baucus said. "And folks should be free to use that to describe our great state."

"As a third generation Montana farmer, I know that folks in our state treasure our status as The Last Best Place,” said Tester. "Montana’s slogan isn’t for sale."

TTABlog comment:
Maybe you're wondering, what about the mark FIRST BEST PLACE? One Barry Conger of Columbia Falls, Montana owns an application (Serial No. 77/143,958) to register that mark. He has just filed a Statement of Use claiming use of the mark for an enormous list of clothing items and a raft of wide-ranging business services. Do you think the Montana Senators will object to his mark?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2009.


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