September 30, 2023


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Standing in Trademark Opposition and Cancellation Proceedings

4 min read


by Dennis Crouch

In a the latest submitting, Brooklyn Brewery (Brewery) indicated strategies to just take its trademark opposition/cancellation situation to the US Supreme Court docket.  The crucial constitutional problem will involve when a TM challenger has Posting III standing to charm an adverse TTAB choice. The difficulties are parallel to people faced on the patent facet by unsuccessful Inter Partes Evaluation (IPR) petitioners who endeavor to enchantment that reduction.

There is a lot heading on in Brewery v. Brew Store, but the issue just before the Supreme Court docket focuses on Brewery’s opposition to Brew Shop’s multi-course trademark registration application.  The software addresses beer & beer-creating-kits (each in Course 32) and also sanitizing items (Class 5).  Brewery challenged registration in both courses (and shed).  On enchantment, the Federal Circuit divided up its view between the 3 sorts of products.  It ruled on the deserves for the beer and beer-making-kits. Brooklyn Brewery Corp. v. Brooklyn Brew Shop, 17 F.4th 129 (Fed. Cir. 2021). But, refused to listen to the portion of the attractiveness relating to the sanitizing goods.

Lack of Standing: With respect to use of the mark on sanitizing products and solutions, the appellate court docket dismissed Brewery’s attraction simply because the company did not exhibit any concrete damage considering that Brewery does not compete in the sanitizing merchandise industry. “To be very clear, an opposer are not able to clearly show standing by basically demonstrating the registrant competes with the opposer and gets a gain from an illegal trademark.” The parties also do not contend in the beer-generating-package marketplace. Nonetheless, the courtroom observed standing there because “beer-creating kits are associated to beer and to some extent compete with beer since they are bought in a lot of of the same outlets.” And,  in accordance to the court docket people who brew beer also consume beer.  (Note that in this online video, a single of the BBS founders suggests that she did not like beer). It is essential to observe that the court’s keeping below is on Constitutional grounds. The U.S. Constitution prevents the appellate court from hearing an attraction on this specific aspect of the circumstance.

Brewery has not nonetheless filed its petition for writ of certiorari, but it did not too long ago petition the Surpeme Courtroom for an extension of time and that document provided the adhering to:

This scenario provides a considerable and vital question of federal regulation: what ought to a bash demonstrate to have Article III standing to enchantment an adverse judgment from the Trademark Demo and Appeal Board to the United States Court docket of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? Below, the Federal Circuit for the initially time held that this kind of appellants should clearly show that (1) it competes in the identical line of business as the appellee, and (2) failure to cancel or refuse registration of a mark would very likely bring about the appellant competitive damage. The Federal Circuit’s unprecedented final decision contravenes this Court’s conclusions, including Lexmark Int’l, Inc. v. Static Factors, Inc., 572 U.S. 118 (2014), and, for numerous litigants, forecloses appellate critique of adverse TTAB decisions.


This outcome is what my old Brooklyn butcher may have termed “slicing the bologna a bit as well skinny.”  In my perspective, if a social gathering has Constitutional standing to problem 1 component of a trademark registration, the Constitution ought to allow a problem of all areas of that application.  You could feel of this like owning standing to challenge claim 1 of the patent, but not claims 2-4.  That final result can materialize, but ordinarily involves an affirmative act by the patentee to demonstrate that there is no way that any liability would ever move from these extra statements.

Details: This was not raised by Brewery’s attorneys, but I’ll also be aware that my 2 minute world-wide-web look for revealed the Brooklyn Brewery napkin below–showing that in-fact the business may possibly contend in the sanitizing product or service marketplace.

In its opposition, the Brewery had argued that Brew Shop’s mark – as made use of on sanitation products and solutions – lacked obtained distinctiveness.  However, the Board did not truly render a final decision on that concern.  In some of its briefing, Brewery argues that this scenario phone calls for an computerized remand under the “ordinary remand rule” and that this sort of a remand does not need the total standing evaluation. Brewery En Banc Petition.

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As outlined, the trademark oppositions and cancellation proceedings have a selection of parallels to IPR challengers, such as the issue of appellate standing for unsuccessful petitioners.  A patent case on the level is pending before the Supreme Courtroom, and we are awaiting the sights of the Solicitor Normal. Apple Inc. v. Qualcomm Integrated, No. 21-746 (CVSG asked for February 22, 2022).

One particular variance between the Trademark and Patent scenarios is that the TM opposition statute limits the availability of oppositions to individuals who “who think[] that [they] would be destroyed by the registration of a mark on the principal register” 15 U.S.C. § 1063(a).  What that means is that we by now have a conclusion by the TTAB that Brewery had standing to make these challenges.  The Federal Circuit did not show up to deliver any deference to the TTAB’s factual conclusions pertaining to that issue.  In addition, the courtroom took the unconventional stance of averting the query of statutory standing in favor of determining Constitutional standing in violation of the widespread principle of Constitutional avoidance.

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


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