Food for thought. A trademark cancellation may result from abandonment of a trademark.
In Local Foods LLC v. Foodsmith Bowen Osborn, the Petitioner sought cancellation of Registrant’s FOODSMITH and Design trademark for “health food, namely freshly prepared meals consisting primarily of local and organic meat, fish poultry, vegetables, properly proportioned, for delivery and pickup” in International Class 29 . For purposes of trademark abandonment, a trademark registration is subject to cancellation if it has not been used for at least three consecutive years. The objective evidence must also infer that the Registrant had no intention to resume use of the mark.
Rather than waiting for a trial on the merits, the Petitioner elected to file a motion for summary judgment seeking a ruling that Registrant had abandoned its Foodsmith mark. Summary judgment is an acceptable method to dispose of a case where there are no genuine issues of material fact. To prevail, the moving party has to show that a particular fact is not in dispute. This may be established by citing to specific materials that have been made of record, including discovery responses and affidavits. Once the moving party submits sufficient evidence to meet its proof, then the burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate the existence of material facts for trial.
Here, Petitioner was able to show, via requests for admission, that the Registrant had not used its Foodsmith mark for at least three consecutive years. The registrant failed to submit any evidence that the mark was still in use by a former partnership via implied license or that he intended to resume use of the mark. He also admitted in answers to interrogatories that he had not yet used the mark himself. Based on the cumulative evidence, the Trademark Board granted Petitioner’s motion and the FOODSMITH Mark was cancelled.
Practitioner’s Note: In seeking a trademark cancellation, the moving party should be sure to plead the proper statutory grounds. A petition for cancellation on grounds of abandonment is fairly straightforward. Either there are facts to establish that the registrant has failed to use its mark for three consecutive years or not. If you are in the position of a defendant/registrant, it is best to speak with a qualified trademark cancellation attorney.