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Yet another sad tale of a trademark owner failing to monitor for infringements of its mark and paying the price later.
Professional wrestler Ric Flair, known by the nickname “Nature Boy,” applied in 2018 to federally register his nickname NATURE BOY for various consumer items, including T-shirts, tank tops, and sweatshirts.
His application was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) because of an application filed six years earlier to register the mark NATURE BOYS for overlapping services. That earlier application resulted in a registration. The administrative court in the USPTO, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, recently affirmed the decision to reject Ric Flair’s application because of the earlier registration.
Ric Flair shouldn’t have lost. He lost because he wasn’t being diligent about protecting his name, which he uses as a trademark.
His rejected trademark application indicates he’s been using the name RIC FLAIR on T-shirts since 1976 – far earlier than the first usage by the owner of registration that blocked him.
Here’s the thing: Ric Flair owned and even older trademark registration for NATURE BOY to cover his entertainment services as a professional wrestler. That application was older than the registration that eventually blocked him – both in federal filing date and in date of first use in commerce.
Moral of the Story: Had Ric Flair been on the ball, he would’ve had his trademark attorney watching for any use of or attempt to federally register a confusingly similar trademark. Had he done that, he would have seen and stopped the application to register NATURE BOYS. But he didn’t, that mark got registered, and it blocked him from registering NATURE BOY to cover clothing items.
For the umpteenth time, here a trademark owner ends up in a terrible place because all he did was register his trademark. He didn’t invest in having a trademark attorney do regular trademark-infringement monitoring and policing. Had he done so, this problem would not have happened.