On September 18, 2009, the Detroit Tigers baseball club filed an opposition against two trademark applications filed by the well-known Build-A-Bear company. Build-A-Bear’s trademark applications are for:
- BUILD-A-TIGER for “plush and stuffed toys and accessories therefor; clothing for stuffed and plush toys” (Serial No. 77630189)
- BUILD-A-TIGER for “retail store services and on-line retail store services featuring plush and stuffed toys and clothing and accessories for plush and stuffed toys.” (Serial No. 77630179)
The Detroit Tigers’ challenge to these applications is based on its belief that BUILD-A-TIGER is likely to confuse consumers into believing that Build-A-Bear’s goods and services “have their origin with [the Detroit Tigers] and/or that such goods and services are approved, endorsed, or sponsored by [the Detroit Tigers] or associated in some way with [the Detroit Tigers].”
Certainly, the Detroit Tigers baseball club (like everyone else) is familiar with the types of products and services offered by the Build-A-Bear company. For many years, Build-A-Bear has been using its various BUILD-A-BEAR trademarks in connection with a retail store and website that offers consumers the ability to create and customize their own stuffed bears. Furthermore, Build-A-Bear owns multiple federal trademark registrations for marks that incorporate BUILD-A-BEAR (Registration Nos. 2633892, 2553748, and 3367891, among others). Quick, someone notify the NFL Chicago Bears that Build-A-Bear is using the generic word “bear” to advertise and sell stuffed bears!
I’m sure that most people would agree that this opposition is nonsensical and frivolous. Based upon Build-A-Bear’s previous use and registration of its BUILD-A-BEAR trademarks, as well as the recitation of products and services in its pending applications for BUILD-A-TIGER, it’s reasonable to assume that Build-A-Bear intends to use its BUILD-A-TIGER trademarks for essentially the same products and services as those offered under the BUILD-A-BEAR trademarks, except that consumers will be creating and customizing stuffed tigers rather than stuffed bears. But, apparently, the Detroit Tigers believe that it has exclusive rights to the word “tiger” and can stop Build-A-Bear from using the term to indicate to consumers an essential characteristic of its products and services. Maybe as part of a settlement agreement, Build-A-Bear can agree to change its trademark from “BUILD-A-TIGER” to “BUILD-A-LargeOrangeCatWithStripesAndSharpTeethThatEnjoysEatingRawFlesh.” Pretty catchy, huh? Kids would love that!
Perhaps if the Tigers would stop paying its attorneys hundreds of dollars per hour to pursue far-fetched claims of the type set forth in its opposition against Build-A-Bear’s trademarks applications for BUILD-A-TIGER, it could afford to reduce the cost of its tickets and merchandise and, even more importantly, field a decent team more than once every three decades.