Toronto Blue Jays Oppose Creighton University Trademark Application

Rogers Blue Jays Baseball Partnership v. Creighton University, In re Application Serial No. 86067719

The Toronto Blue Jays have filed a Notice of Opposition with the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in an effort to prevent the approval of trademark protection for the new logo being offered on sports apparel by Omaha’s Creighton University.  Creighton has filed for trademark protection for a stylized blue jay head design to be used on “Athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, [and] athletic uniforms.”  This is the Creighton logo, from a t-shirt currently available on their athletic department web site.

For their part, the Toronto Blue Jays have claimed that the team has continually used very similar logo designs from well before the Creighton application date of September 18, 2013 as shown here:
As a result of the alleged similarity, the Toronto Blue Jays claim Creighton has caused confusion and deceived the public that the Creighton goods were approved or endorsed by Toronto’s Major League Baseball team.  They further claim to be damaged by causing a likelihood of dilution “by blurring the distinctive quality” of the Toronto marks.  The Toronto Blue Jays request that the Creighton application be denied.

The basic analysis of trademark infringement is the “likelihood of confusion.”  Accordingly, the Toronto Blue Jays do not need to show actual confusion.  The specific inquiries that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will make include: the similarity of the marks with respect to appearance and impression, the similarity of the goods or services, the similarity of “trade channels”, the strength of the competing marks, actual confusion, length of time of concurrent use without actual confusion and the variety of goods with which each of the marks is used.  In re E.I. DuPont DeNemours & Co. (1973).    

The decision of the board will be posted after it has been issued.  What do you think is going to happen?

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