Following Super Bowl Victory, A Dispute Over The ‘Champa Bay’ Trademark
On February 7th, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31 to 9 to win Super Bowl LV. This follows last year’s Stanley Cup Championship for the Tampa Bay Lightning and World Series appearance for the baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. According to a report from ABC Action News, at least three parties are now locked in a dispute over the trademark for the term ‘Champa Bay’.
A Largo, Florida man obtained trademark protection for the phrase in 2003, after the first Super Bowl victory for the Buccaneers. Now multiple entrepreneurs are working to capitalize on the term and a trademark dispute is brewing. Here, our Florida trademark registration attorneys explain what happens when multiple, conflicting trademark applications are filed.
Conflicting Marks: Earliest Effective Filing Date Gets Priority in Publication
When two (or more) conflicting trademark applications are filed with the USPTO, the application with the earliest effective date gets priority. As explained within the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP), “the mark with the earliest effective filing date will be published in the Official Gazette for opposition if eligible for the Principal Register.”
To be clear, this does not mean that the first filer automatically gets trademark ownership of a disputed mark. Other interested parties will then have the right to submit a trademark opposition. Administered by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), a trademark opposition is a legal proceeding in which one party attempts to block another party from registering a trademark.
A Secondary Issue—The Term May Not Be ‘Distinctive Enough’ for Trademark Protection
For those entrepreneurial-minded fans seeking trademark protection for ‘Champa Bay’, there is a secondary problem. The term may not be deemed sufficiently “distinctive” to qualify for federal trademark protection. Indeed, under American trademark law, distinctiveness is a required element to access trademark protection. The mark must be associated with a specific brand. A term/phrase/mark that is deemed to be “generic” will not qualify for a trademark.
It is an issue for the ‘Champa Bay’ trademark applications because many athletes, celebrities, and sports commentators almost immediately started using the term after the Buccaneers Super Bowl win. Federal trademark examiners may decide that the term is simply too generic to be registered. Still, it remains to be seen how the USPTO will decide this matter. Many different factors will be considered in determining who, if anyone, can obtain trademark protection for ‘Champa Bay’.
Get Help From Our Boca Raton, FL Trademark Lawyers for Legal Help.
At Perkins Law, our Florida trademark law attorneys have the skills and knowledge to protect your brand. If you have questions about trademark registrations, we are here for you and your business. Contact us today for a fully private assessment of your legal case. From our office in Boca Raton, our law firm provides trademark law services throughout South Florida, including in West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, and Fort Lauderdale.