Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CAFC Affirms TTAB's "DEALERDASHBOARD" Mere Descriptiveness Decision

In a nonprecedential disposition, the CAFC affirmed the TTAB's decision (here) sustaining an opposition to registration of the mark DEALERDASHBOARD for automobile dealer information services, on the ground of Section 2(e)(1) mere descriptiveness. Pro se Appellant Michael Dalton unsuccessfully argued that Honda lacked standing to oppose, that the Board erred in its finding of mere descriptiveness, and that the Board erred in excluding certain evidence. Dalton v. Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Appeal No. 2011-1077 (Fed. Cir. June 13, 2011) [not precedential].

Standing: The court agreed that Opposer Honda, although a Japanese corporation, had a real interest in the outcome of the case because any harm to its American subsidiary would cause harm to Honda.

Mere Descriptiveness: Dictionary definitions and third-party uses of the term "dealer dashboard" supported the Board's descriptiveness finding. Dalton pointed to third-party registrations for marks that include "dealer," but the court ruled that these registrations did not call for a different result here, since each case must be decided on its own record evidence.

Evidentiary Rulings: Rulings on evidence are reviewed for abuse of discretion. The Board properly excluded documents that were requested during discovery but were introduced for the first time during Dalton's testimony deposition. In any case, the Board specifically indicated that the excluded evidence had no bearing on the outcome.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2011.


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