Friday, November 19, 2004

Archie Overreaches

I confess that I was never a fan of ARCHIE comics. SUPERMAN better fit my self-image. And I still can't stand that early '70s bubblegum pop song by The Archies, "Sugar, Sugar."
      Sugar, ah, honey, honey
      You are my candy girl
      And you've got me wanting you
      Honey, ah, sugar, sugar
      You are my candy girl
      And you've got me wanting you
Maybe that's why I took particular interest in the TTAB's recent decision in Archie Comic Publications, Inc. v. Chaoyang Baolansi Meticulous & Chemical Co., Opposition No. 91111889 (September 30, 2004) [not citable].

Applicant Chaoyang Baolansi sought to register the mark ARCHÉ in stylized form for various cosmetics.

Archie opposed under Section 2(d), relying on three registrations for the mark ARCHIE (one in block letter form) for comic books, and on its licensing of the marks for comic-related toys, games, and novelty items.

The Board found no likelihood of confusion in view of the dissimilar commercial impressions created by the marks and the differences between comic books and cosmetics. Archie contended that cosmetics are in its "natural zone of expansion," but the Board noted that Archie provided "no evidence of any attempt to bridge the gap from its current or past licensing efforts to cosmetics."

Although the Board acknowledged that ARCHIE comic books have been "very successful and long lasting in the comic book field" and have spawned numerous ARCHIE comic-themed products and various entertainment ventures and promotions, the Board stopped short of embracing Archie's claim of fame: "we conclude only that the marks are well known for comic books. Accordingly, fame is not a dispositive factor in this case."

The Board also found no support for Archie's assertion that its comic books and Chaoyang Baolansi's cosmetics "could be low-priced items bought by unsophisticated girls under the age of 15:" "Opposer has put nothing into the record to establish what percentage of girls 6-14 who subscribe to comic books also are potential purchasers of cosmetics."

Now I know next to nothing about this subject, but I am surprised at the suggestion that, in this electronic day and age, there are still girls out there who subscribe to comic books.


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