The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board [TTAB] is extremely strict when it comes to inaccurate statements made by trademark applicants and registrants. It routinely rejects excuses such as lack of legal advice, language difficulties [e.g. non-English speakers], and inadvertent mistake. It emphasizes that statements made in trademark matters should be investigated thoroughly prior to submission to the USPTO.
In 2008, several marks were rejected based on “honest mistakes.” The specific or actual intent of the applicant is not material to the question of fraud. Proof of specific intent to commit fraud is not required to kill a trademark. Fraud occurs when an applicant or registrant makes a false material representation that the applicant or registrant knew or should have known was false.
Showing just how serious this has gotten, the TTAB found that Bose committed fraud in its renewal of a registration for the mark “
” for, among other goods, audio tape recorders. Bose acknowledged that it stopped manufacturing and selling audio tape recorders and players in 1996-97. Unfortunately, Bose did not delete those goods from the
registration when filing for renewal of the
trademark. The result was a ruling that Bose committed fraud in maintaining its trademark registration. Ouch.
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