Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Use of Mark "BLUE TURF" on Blog Suffices as Service Mark Specimen for Sports Entertainment Services, Says TTAB, Unconvincingly

As an amateur blogger, maybe I should "like" this decision, but I don't. The Board reversed a refusal to register the word mark BLUE TURF for "entertainment services, namely, the presentation of intercollegiate sporting events and sports exhibitions," finding the blog page shown immediately to be an acceptable specimen of use for the mark. In re Boise State University, Serial No. 77574816 (February 18, 2011) [not precedential].

(click on picture for larger image)

The Examining Attorney did not dispute that the appearance of the term BLUE TURF BLOG was a technical use of the mark BLUE TURF. According to the Board, "[t]he generic term BLOG is not essential to the commercial impression conveyed by the term BLUE TURF." [I don't agree. I don't think one should ignore the word BLOG. Why would an ordinary "consumer" think that this was a use of the mark BLUE TURF? Isn't it a use of the mark BLUE TURF BLOG for informational services? - ed.]

The Examining Attorney did, however, maintain that there is "no direct association between the football team and the words BLUE TURF, arguing that BLUE TURF as used on this specimen only identifies a 'blog' or online journal, a service that is totally different from the service of presenting intercollegiate sporting events." [I agree: BLUE TURF BLOG refers to a blog, not a football team - ed.] The Board disagreed:

The purpose of applicant's blog, at least as it appears on these specimens, is to provide continuing updates on game day preparations and to report on pre-game highlights and activities. The blog is produced on the University's website, it is maintained and hosted by the University, and moreover, it is authored by the University "staff." Although the "blog" is not an advertisement in the traditional sense, it nonetheless is clearly used by the University as a marketing device, that is, as a means to generate interest in and to promote and market upcoming sporting events conducted by the University. We find that the specimen shows use of applicant's mark to identify the services specified in the application.

And so the Board reversed the refusal.

TTABlog comment: An ugly decision, and an uglier football field.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2011.


At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Erik Pelton said...

Boise State University is certainly painting the USPTO blue... here is their registration for "The mark consists of the color blue used on the artifical [sic] turf in the stadium."

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually think that there is a difference between an arms-length blog by a 3rd party and an internal blog which is used to shill for a particular company's goods or services. Here, the internal blog is advertising the presentation of sports events, is trying to increase attendance at such events, etc. Very little information for the benefit of the public is provided. The Office generally takes the position that providing information about one's own services is not really a service. Tons of applications are crafted to get around this, of course. Still, I think that we accept that providing information about one's own services is not a service, that means that something like an internal blog has to be treated like an advertisement for the company's principal services, here presentation of sporting events.


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