The Board sustained an opposition to registration of HOLLYWOOD HOTEL for hotel and bar services, finding that the applicant was not the owner of the mark at the time it filed its application to register. In a 37-page opinion that thoroughly discusses the facts and applicable law, the Board deemed the application void ab initio. Hollywood Casino LLC v. Chateau Celeste, Inc., Opposition No. 91203686 (July 2, 2019) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Christopher Larkin).
An application filed by a person or entity that is not the owner of the mark is a void application. The owner is the one that controls the nature and quality of the goods and services sold under the mark. Opposer had the burden to prove that applicant was not the owner at the time of filing of the opposed application.
The Board's review of relevant CAFC and Board precedent indicated that "under certain circumstances, ownership of a mark may pass from one entity to another without an assignment, and that one company may become the owner of a mark by controlling its use by a related company." Here, however, the evidence did not show that applicant became the owner of the mark in any of the was discussed in the case law.
The Board found that the facts here "closely resemble" those in Great Seats Ltd v. Great Seats, Inc., 84 USPQ2d 1235 (TTAB 2007) [TTABlogged here]. When the opposed application was filed, there were two separate companies in existence, one individual was an officer and controlling shareholder of both, and both had a common address. However, those points of commonality do not suffice to make the companies related under Section 5 of the Lanham Act. Applicant would have to show that it, not the individual, controlled the nature and quality of the services rendered by Zarco Hotels, the corporation actually using the mark.
And so the Board sustained the opposition.
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