Chicago Cubs Successfully Oppose Iowa Man's 'Cubnoxious' Trademark; Court Cites Obnoxious Cubs Fans
Since 2016, when the Chicago Cubs became magically relevant in baseball again, the team has also become relevant in intellectual property discussions. The Cubs have gone to war with the street vendors that have long set up shop near Clark and Addison, and the team has been party to an ongoing battle with roughly all the uses of the letter "W" in commerce.But as the team's lawyers appear to have been invigorated by its on the field success, that isn't to say that every single trademark dispute it initiates is one in which it's the bad guy. For instance, one Iowa man decided to trademark the term "Cubnoxious", but apparently didn't have any actual plans to use it when the Cubs came calling.
Ronald Mark Huber applied to register the word mark in 2016 in class 25 for shirts. In response, the Cubs asserted a number of marks for the team name and logo for various goods and services, including clothing. In its decision, issued on Friday, May 3, the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruled that Huber had failed to provide sufficient evidence of intent to use the mark at the time of filing the application.Apart from the trademark application itself, Huber did not provide any documentary evidence of his intention to use the mark other than an affidavit, which stated his “plan to use the mark in commerce for the general public”.So, yeah, this guy couldn't bring the goods when the court asked what he planned on doing with the trademark. Now, I will say that, had this guy had an actual plan, the Cubs opposing the mark on the grounds of public confusion would seem pretty silly. What would the claim be, that the Cubs would call their own fans obnoxious? That obviously isn't something a team is going to call its own fans.The USPTO decision, however, appeared to have no such qualms about such references.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said the Cubs offered "convincing" evidence its marks were strong, going back to the early 1900s, when Hall of Fame infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance wore Cubs jerseys.It also said "Cubnoxious" was already associated with some Cubs fans, citing media reports, Twitter posts and even a Yelp user who complained about having to avoid "Cubnoxious Drunkards" in a Chicago park.I know Cubs fans. I am one. The USPTO is, for once, spot on.