Chippendales’ “Professional and Classy Sexy Fun” Deemed Not Inherently Distinctive.
By Phillip Hill – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown
In re Chippendales USA, Inc., Serial No. 78/666,598 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 1, 2010)
On October 1, the United States Court for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which ruled that Chippendales USA, Inc. could not register its “abbreviated tuxedo” costume, the “Cuffs & Collar,” as an inherently distinctive mark.
The Court held that even though live adult entertainment typically involves “revealing and provocative” costumes, individual costumes can nevertheless be inherently distinctive. The Cuffs & Collar only qualified for acquired distinctiveness, however, because of shared heritage with the Playboy Bunny costume.
Both the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the Federal Circuit applied the test articulated in Seabrook Foods, Inc. v. Bar-Well Foods, Ltd., 568 F.2d 1342 (C.C.P.A. 1977) for determining inherent distinctiveness. In applying the Seabrook test, the court agreed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) that inherent distinctiveness must be measured at the time of registration as opposed to the time of first use. The court reasoned that it would be unfair to allow applicants to delay registration and then “preempt intervening uses that might have relied on the fact that registration . . . had not been sought at an earlier time.”