The University of Florida Gators recently chomped into a competitor that applied for a trademark similar to the university’s reptilian mascot. According to James Hastings of Cohen IP Intellectual Property Law, the University Athletic Association opposed Incentive Marketing Inc.’s application for the mark GATOR SHOP, as it was too similar to Florida’s GATOR family of marks.
The athletics board was able to submit 12 U.S. trademark registrations to the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board for its products and services. This was probably in large part because of the group’s stringent trademark licensing procedures, explains Hastings, who notes that all members of the NCAA and other universities fervently protect their brands as they bring in major revenue for them.
Hastings says that when analyzing the situation, the board focused on two key considerations: the similarity of the marks and the similarity of the goods and services. Since the applicant’s “GATOR SHOP” proposed to offer entertainment services, such as conducting intercollegiate athletic events and selling apparel and other retail goods, “the board observed that opposer’s and applicant’s retail store services were legally identical.”
The board also found the marks themselves were confusing, since both predominantly employed the word “gator.” In the end, “it was a relatively simple and straightforward case of likelihood of confusion and therefore the opposition was sustained and registration denied,” says Hastings.