As many of you know from my “Ridiculous Trademark Opposition of the Week” postings, I am in the habit of browsing through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) records on a weekly basis in order to track what companies are filing challenges to trademark applications and registrations owned by others and on what basis these challenges are being made. This information is extremely valuable to me because if a client comes to me with a desire to register a particular trademark, I may already have an idea of the problems he/she is going to encounter from a particular company.
Over the past eight months or so, I have noticed that a few large companies routinely file challenges against other trademark applications and registrations. One such company is Apex, LLC. Apex is the owner of at least 10 federal trademark registrations for marks that incorporate the word “apex,” including APEX, APEX MALL, APEX ONLINE, APEX COMPANIES, APEX ADVANTAGE, and APEX STORES. These marks are registered for a wide variety of products and services, including retail department stores, automotive repair, custom printing and embellishment of promotional items, anti-theft alarms, real estate development, and shopping malls. I am personally not familiar with any of Apex’s products or services and Apex’s website is a complete mess with lots of text but very little information about the company. In fact, the whole company looks kind of shady if you ask me. If any of you happen to know anything about Apex, please post a comment or send me an email.
I believe most people would agree that APEX is not the strongest trademark ever used. According to Dictionary.com, it is a regular English language word that means “the highest point” or “the point of culmination.” Clearly, “apex” is strongly suggestive of superior quality and prominence and, under well-established law, suggestive trademarks are not entitled to the broadest spectrum of protection. We’re not talking about coined trademarks such as BUICK, XEROX, or KODAK, but rather an everyday word with an ordinary meaning.
But, don’t you worry, that doesn’t stop Apex from spending an exorbitant amount of money and resources challenging third-parties who use or intend to use “apex” as a trademark to advertise and sell their products and services. My research indicates that Apex has filed an astounding 40 oppositions and cancellations just in the past two years against pending trademark applications and existing trademark registrations for marks that incorporate “apex” or something close to it, such as APEX WILDLIFE CONTROL, MEGAPEX, APEX SKYPARK, and APEX INVESTIGATION. This number doesn’t even include the dozens of other threatened challenges by Apex that appear to have been resolved in some manner prior to the filing of a formal opposition or cancellation proceeding. In fact, if you search for “Apex, LLC” in the TTAB records, you will receive an astonishing 110 results, with each one representing a separate and distinct challenge or threatened challenge to a third-party trademark application or trademark registration.
To be fair, Apex is not the only company that files a crazy amount of challenges. Virgin Enterprises will automatically oppose any application that includes the word “virgin,” and the McDonald’s Corporation will oppose any application with “Mc” or “Mac.” So, whatever you do, don’t attempt to register MCVIRGIN or you will find your application opposed by two of the largest, wealthiest, and most well-known companies in the world.
Of course, if you’re trying to break the record for the number of different companies opposing a single trademark application, I suggest you try registering APEX MCVIRGIN and I can guarantee at least three.