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The USOC Strikes Again -- This Time Against Olympia's Newspaper

This headline is what bugs me about the USOC: “USOC fights Olympian newspaper’s trademark.”

Now, what the Seattle Times means is the USOC is opposing McClatchy U.S.A. Inc.’s application to register its trademark, THE OLYMPIAN. The trademark it has used since Feb. 1, 1982.

The PTO ok’d it. But not the good ol’ USOC, which thinks that after 27 years, folks around here are prone to suddenly associating the paper’s name not with Olympia, Wash., where it is based, but with the Olympics. Gimme a break. 

Indeed, this mark would seem to fall squarely within the Ted Stevens Act’s exception for use of the word “Olympic” in commerce when “it is evident from the circumstances that such use … refers to the naturally occurring mountains or geographical region of the same name that were named prior to February 6, 1998, and not to the corporation or any Olympic activity,” and such use outside of the “State of Washington west of the Cascade Mountain range” is “not substantial.”

This is the name of Olympia’s newspaper, folks. This sort of thing could dampen my Olympic spirit.

The USOC apparently has more important things to worry about. Like protecting consumers against confusion. That’s what it argues in its Sept. 18 notice of opposition:

“Registration and use of Applicant’s Mark is likely to cause injury to Opposer’s business reputation and to injure and impair Opposer’s rights in its trademarks and service marks by causing confusion, mistake and/or deception as to the respective rights of the parties and as to the source of the goods and services offered by Applicant. In addition, any defect, failure or fault with respect to Applicant’s Goods provided under Applicant’s Mark would erode the valuable goodwill associated with Opposer and its Olympic Marks. Opposer will be harmed to a greater degree if Applicant’s Goods do not meet the strict quality standards consumers normally associate with the Olympic Games, namely, elite competition at the highest level.”

Like I said before, Give me a break.

The Olympian’s article on the dispute from today’s paper is here.

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  • Response
    Response: IP News Shorts
    Here are several stories that I have been wanting to blog about, but have not been able to get to because of the new Local Patent Rules, my webinar on reducing IP litigation costs (I was glad to see that so many of you attended and found the presentation valuable) and ...

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