Napa Vintners Association Fails to Prove Standing, TTAB Dismisses 2(d) Opposition to NOPA for Wines
Standing is a threshold issue that must be proven in every inter partes proceeding. In this opposition to registration of the mark NOPA for wines, applicant Wine Vision, a Portuguese company appearing pro se, did not file a brief or introduce testimony or other evidence - you might say that NOPA used the Ropa Dopa defense - but the Napa Valley Vintners Association failed to prove its standing to oppose. How did it all go sour? Read on, MacDuff. Napa Valley Vintners Association v. Wine Vision, Lda., Opposition No. 91189310 (July 29, 2014) [not precedential].
Opposer claimed to own the common law certification marks NAPA and NAPA VALLEY for wine, and it alleged that applicant's mark NOPA would likely cause confusion under Section 2(d), comprises a geographical indication that identifies a place other than the origin of the goods under Section 2(a), is geographically deceptive under 2(a), and is geographically deceptively misdescriptive under Section 2(e)(3). Applicant admitted that "Napa" is a geographic indication for wine, but otherwise denied opposer's allegations.
Opposer argued in its brief that it had standing, claiming that it is a non-profit trade association promoting the interest of Napa Valley wineries and owner of a pending certification mark application for NAPA VALLEY for wine - but it failed to cite any evidence in support of those assertions. There was "no evidence of record that Opposer is a trade association, what its responsibilities are, who its members are or whether it certifies anything and if it does so, much less whether it owns the alleged certification mark NAPA VALLEY." Its alleged application to register was not of record, and anyway it did not plead ownership of that application. There was no evidence that opposer owns any mark.
Opposer's evidence consisted of certain sections of the Code of Federal Regulations referring to the Napa Valley viticultural area, and book excerpts referring to the Napa Valley. There was a passing book reference to the formation of the Napa Valley Vintners Association in 1943, but no evidence to establish opposer's current activities.
Applicant made no admissions that would establish opposer's standing.
Therefore the Board concluded that opposer failed to establish standing, and the opposition was dismissed.
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TTABlog note: So now what does the Association do?
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2014.