Trademark Attorney Morris Turek

Morris E. Turek

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Ridiculous Trademark Opposition of the Week – Nokia v. Sony Ericsson

After about a two month hiatus, my “Ridiculous Trademark Opposition of the Week” series continues with a battle between two titans of the cell phone industry.  Nokia Corporation is the owner of various federal trademark registrations for marks that consist of a single letter and two numbers, including N70 (Reg. No. 3524307), N76 (Reg. No. 3527666), N80 (Reg. No. 3527665), N83 (Reg. No. 3527664), N90 (Reg. No. 3527663), N95 (Reg. No. 3527662), and at least fifteen others.  All of these marks are registered for mobile phones and related accessories and have been registered for about 2-3 years.  Needless to say, I think we can all agree that these marks are not exactly the most creative and unique marks we’ve ever come across.  In fact, they’re kind of lame.

Anyway, on August 3, 2009, Sony Ericsson (one of Nokia’s fiercest competitors), filed two applications for the marks X3 and X4 (Serial Nos. 77795219 and 77795228 respectively).  These applications were filed on an intent-to-use basis and are both for cell phones and related accessories.  I also note that Sony is already the owner of a 2009 federal registration for the mark X1 (Reg. No. 3620481), as well as various other registrations for marks consisting of a single letter and three numbers, including J210, W900, K310, Z530, and many others.  Again, the marketing minds at Sony weren’t exactly working overtime when they came up with these bland and lifeless trademarks.

Well, apparently, Nokia wasn’t too thrilled with Sony attempting to register X1 and X2, as evidenced by its June 21, 2010 filing of a notice of opposition against both applications (which was later amended by Nokia on June 30 to correct some minor errors).  Unlike many oppositions, Nokia’s claims are not based on a likelihood of confusion, descriptiveness, dilution, or deceptiveness.  Nope, Nokia’s claims are based on its belief that Sony’s X3 and X4 marks “lack sufficient distinctiveness to function as a trademark” and, therefore, are barred from registration on the Principal Register.  So, Nokia is basically alleging that Sony’s marks are so pathetically unoriginal and unimaginative that they legally cannot function to identify and distinguish between Sony’s cell phones and those of its many competitors.  Wow, that’s quite the kick in the groin for Sony’s marketing gurus.

So, let me get this straight.  In Nokia’s mind, it is perfectly OK for it to register marks for mobile phones and accessories consisting of a letter followed by two numbers, and Nokia doesn’t seem to have any objection to Sony registering marks for mobile phones and accessories consisting of a letter followed by three numbers, but it simply will not stand for Sony attempting to register marks consisting of a letter followed by one number because they “lack sufficient distinctiveness.”  Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.  I mean, it’s completely laughable that Nokia actually believes that its N76 and N83 marks are somehow more inherently distinctive and more deserving of registration than Sony’s X3 and X4 marks.  I tell you, if I was a judge on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board assigned to this nonsense, it would take everything I have not to retire effective immediately.

But wait!  Breaking news:  Motorola attempts to register “M30497354623853762018374473425” for its highly anticipated new cell phone.  Details on Nokia’s impending challenge to follow.

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One Response to Ridiculous Trademark Opposition of the Week – Nokia v. Sony Ericsson

  1. Jason Bajor says:

    Perhaps a more fitting opposition would be one filed by BMW since they are the makers of the X3 and X5 SUVs. No one seems to take up issue with a lack of distinctiveness there.

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