I almost put this trademark dispute in the “ridiculous trademark opposition” category, but I didn’t want to add insult to injury after the Atlanta Braves’ embarrassing late-season collapse that resulted in the team missing the postseason after leading the St. Louis Cardinals by 10.5 games in the wild card race. See, I actually do have a heart.
Apparently, on June 22 of next year, Disney/Pixar is poised to release a new animated feature titled “Brave.” According to Disney’s website, the movie is about a young, female archer who “must discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.” From that description, it certainly doesn’t sound to me like “Brave” is going to be nearly as entertaining or original as “Wall-E” or the “Toy Story” series. In fact, it sounds downright dull, formulaic, and probably only worth seeing if it becomes available at the local Redbox for $1. Of course, it’s not like I think any movie is worth paying $10 to see at the theater. Especially after last summer when I wasted 139 minutes of my life watching “The Tree of Life.” Worst movie I’ve ever seen. God awful.
Anyway, in March 2010, Disney filed 14 intent-to-use trademark applications seeking federal registration of the word BRAVE. These applications cover a wide range of products and services, including film production, clothing, food, toys, games, home accessories, furniture, luggage, and almost everything else you could possibly think of. At the same time, Disney also submitted 14 other trademark applications seeking registration of the phrase DISNEY PIXAR BRAVE for nearly identical goods and services. Almost all of Disney’s 28 trademark applications were approved by the Trademark Office, but a few of the BRAVE applications have been suspended pending the disposition of prior-filed applications owned by individuals and businesses unrelated to Disney.
Well, the Atlanta National League Baseball Club (known to you and me as the Atlanta Braves) didn’t seem to have a problem with any of Disney’s trademark applications for DISNEY PIXAR BRAVE, but on July 8, 2011, the Braves filed an opposition against nine of Disney’s BRAVE applications (at a cost of $2,700 in government filing fees alone). The notice of opposition alleges that the Atlanta Braves own 34 federal trademark registrations for marks that incorporate the word BRAVES that are registered for products and services that overlap with some of those identified in Disney’s applications. Because BRAVES and BRAVE are essentially identical in appearance and sound, the Atlanta Braves assert that Disney’s trademarks are likely to cause confusion in that consumers will mistakenly believe that either (1) Disney’s BRAVE-branded goods and services emanate from the Atlanta Braves or (2) that the Atlanta Braves sponsor or endorse Disney’s products/services. In reviewing the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s records, it appears that the parties have agreed to suspend the opposition proceeding while they engage in settlement negotiations.
Although I am usually against these kinds of highly questionable trademark oppositions, I am throwing my full support behind the Braves and encourage them to file as many oppositions as possible. After all, every dollar the Braves spend on this nonsense translates into one less dollar they have to build a team that won’t buckle in the last month of the season. As a fan of the Cardinals, I feel it’s my duty as a trademark attorney to do what I can to help the Redbirds bring home another Word Series championship in 2012. You’re welcome Cardinals Nation.