Standing in Trademark Opposition and Cancellation Proceedings


by Dennis Crouch

In a modern submitting, Brooklyn Brewery (Brewery) indicated options to consider its trademark opposition/cancellation case to the US Supreme Court docket.  The vital constitutional concern involves when a TM challenger has Short article III standing to attraction an adverse TTAB determination. The challenges are parallel to those people confronted on the patent aspect by unsuccessful Inter Partes Evaluation (IPR) petitioners who try to appeal that decline.

There is a lot heading on in Brewery v. Brew Store, but the issue in advance of the Supreme Courtroom focuses on Brewery’s opposition to Brew Shop’s multi-course trademark registration software.  The software handles beer & beer-creating-kits (both of those in Course 32) and also sanitizing merchandise (Course 5).  Brewery challenged registration in the two classes (and dropped).  On attraction, the Federal Circuit divided up its viewpoint involving the three styles of goods.  It ruled on the deserves for the beer and beer-earning-kits. Brooklyn Brewery Corp. v. Brooklyn Brew Shop, 17 F.4th 129 (Fed. Cir. 2021). But, refused to listen to the part of the attraction relating to the sanitizing merchandise.

Absence of Standing: With regard to use of the mark on sanitizing items, the appellate court docket dismissed Brewery’s enchantment simply because the firm did not clearly show any concrete harm considering that Brewery does not compete in the sanitizing product industry. “To be apparent, an opposer are unable to exhibit standing by just demonstrating the registrant competes with the opposer and gets a benefit from an unlawful trademark.” The parties also do not contend in the beer-making-package marketplace. However, the courtroom discovered standing there because “beer-building kits are connected to beer and to some extent compete with beer considering that they are marketed in numerous of the very same suppliers.” And,  in accordance to the court folks who brew beer also drink beer.  (Be aware that in this video clip, a single of the BBS founders claims that she did not like beer). It is essential to note that the court’s holding in this article is on Constitutional grounds. The U.S. Structure prevents the appellate courtroom from hearing an attractiveness on this particular aspect of the scenario.

Brewery has not nonetheless submitted its petition for writ of certiorari, but it did recently petition the Surpeme Courtroom for an extension of time and that doc bundled the adhering to:

This circumstance provides a substantial and vital issue of federal regulation: what ought to a party demonstrate to have Posting III standing to attraction an adverse judgment from the Trademark Trial and Enchantment Board to the United States Court docket of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? Below, the Federal Circuit for the initially time held that such appellants should exhibit that (1) it competes in the similar line of business as the appellee, and (2) failure to cancel or refuse registration of a mark would possible lead to the appellant aggressive injury. The Federal Circuit’s unparalleled conclusion contravenes this Court’s decisions, which include Lexmark Int’l, Inc. v. Static Parts, Inc., 572 U.S. 118 (2014), and, for a lot of litigants, forecloses appellate overview of adverse TTAB conclusions.


This end result is what my old Brooklyn butcher might have termed “slicing the bologna a little bit too thin.”  In my watch, if a bash has Constitutional standing to challenge a single part of a trademark registration, the Structure really should permit a challenge of all elements of that software.  You could consider of this like getting standing to challenge declare 1 of the patent, but not claims 2-4.  That final result can take place, but ordinarily calls for an affirmative act by the patentee to clearly show that there is no way that any liability would at any time move from those more promises.

Information: This was not lifted by Brewery’s lawyers, but I’ll also observe that my 2 moment net lookup revealed the Brooklyn Brewery serviette below–showing that in-truth the organization may compete in the sanitizing solution market.

In its opposition, the Brewery experienced argued that Brew Shop’s mark – as employed on sanitation products – lacked acquired distinctiveness.  Having said that, the Board did not basically render a conclusion on that issue.  In some of its briefing, Brewery argues that this scenario phone calls for an automatic remand below the “ordinary remand rule” and that these types of a remand does not have to have the comprehensive standing investigation. Brewery En Banc Petition.

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As pointed out, the trademark oppositions and cancellation proceedings have a selection of parallels to IPR challengers, which include the difficulty of appellate standing for unsuccessful petitioners.  A patent situation on the stage is pending right before the Supreme Court docket, and we are awaiting the sights of the Solicitor Common. Apple Inc. v. Qualcomm Included, No. 21-746 (CVSG asked for February 22, 2022).

1 variation involving the Trademark and Patent conditions is that the TM opposition statute limits the availability of oppositions to individuals who “who feel[] that [they] would be broken by the registration of a mark on the principal register” 15 U.S.C. § 1063(a).  What that usually means is that we already have a final decision by the TTAB that Brewery experienced standing to make these worries.  The Federal Circuit did not appear to give any deference to the TTAB’s factual conclusions about that challenge.  In addition, the court took the strange stance of keeping away from the dilemma of statutory standing in favor of selecting Constitutional standing in violation of the prevalent theory of Constitutional avoidance.

Trademark Registration No. 4,034,439 U.S. Trademark Software Serial No. 86,280,776 Brooklyn Brewery Corp. v. Brooklyn Brew Store, 17 F.4th 129 (Fed. Cir. 2021).


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