Federal Circuit Clarifies the Fame Standard for Trade Dilution
By Sonal Mittal – Edited by Laura Fishwick
Coach Servs., Inc., v. Triumph Learning L.L.C., No. 2011-1129 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 21, 2012)
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part the decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”), which had dismissed the notice of opposition filed by Coach Services, Inc. (“CSI”) opposing the registration of the COACH mark by Triumph Learning L.L.C. (“Triumph”). The Federal Circuit upheld the Board’s holding that CSI failed to prove that Triumph’s educational materials were likely to dilute CSI’s luxury travel brand. In so holding, the court provided an example of a level of fame that is insufficient to qualify for protection from brand dilution under the Lanham Act.
PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. TrademarkAttorneys praises the decision as a just response to major luxury label’s attempt to enforce a trademark without any legitimate economic need to do so. The TTABlog concurs that the case provides an interesting benchmark for the level of fame required to achieve trade dilution in the context of two disparate market sectors—luxury travel goods and educational services. (more…)