LIVESTRONG: BARKING UP THE TRADEMARK TREE

by Tamera H. BennettSeptember 14, 2007

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Lance Armstrong Foundation, Inc. filed suit in the Western District of Texas (Austin) for trademark infringement against Oklahoma Animal Charity Collar Group, Inc. for its PURRSTRONG and BARKSTRONG animal collars.

Armstrong's foundation is the owner of the LIVESTRONG trademark for wristbands and fundraising. The LIVESTRONG mark was first used in interstate commerce in December 2003 and Armstrong's foundation secured a federal trademark registration on January 31, 2006. Armstrong's foundation has 15 registered/pending trademark applications related primarily in classes 14 (jewelry) and 36 (fundraising).

Pursuant to the complaint filed on September 11, 2007, Animal Charity Collar Group, Inc. approached Armstrong's foundation for a license and made an in person proposal on July 29, 2005. The proposal was denied.

In addition to using the trademarks PURRSTRONG and BARKSTRONG, Defendant Animal Charity uses the marks on yellow collars embossed in a similar fashion as the LIVESTRONG wristbands. Chris Ohman, the sole owner of Animal charity, filed trademark applications for PURRSTRONG, BARKSTRONG, CAN YOUR DOG BARKSTRONG?, CAN YOUR CAT PURRSTRONG?

Evidently the trademark examiners at the USPTO are not seeing the confusion. The PURRSTRONG application for pet collars registered on April 3, 2007. To further muddy the waters at the USPTO, there is another filing for BARKSTRONG and PURRSTRONG filed by a third party. All of these marks are currently in suspension. It does not look as if they are suspended because of the LIVESTRONG marks, but rather waiting on Ohman's marks to move toward registration.

Whose mark is "strongest?" We shall see.