Orange County Trademark Attorney® Blog

Trademark Board Rejects "CrackBerry" Trademark Applications

March 2, 2012

cellphone_blackberry.jpgOrange County - The trademark trial and appeal board for the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected four trademark applications for the term "CrackBerry," ruling that the trademarks would dilute Research in Motion Ltd.'s "BlackBerry" trademark. The term "CrackBerry" is jokingly used by people to describe their "addictive" BlackBerry smartphones as something they cannot function without.

According to the trademark board's decision passed down on February 27th, Defining Presence Marketing Group had filed four applications to register the "CrackBerry" trademark between December 2006 and May 2007 for different types of goods and services. Specifically, the applications were to use the term in connection with Web-based marketing services, computer services, online chat rooms, and apparel.

Soon after the trademark applications were published for opposition between July and November 2007, Research in Motion (RIM) opposed all four applications on the grounds that use of the "CrackBerry" trademark would cause a likelihood of confusion with the public and also that the trademarks would lead to dilution, which is a weakening of the distinctive quality and reputation behind a trademark.

Defining Presence, which had assigned all four trademarks to Axel Ltd. Co. in September 2007, argued to the TTAB that the registrations should be sustained because the term CrackBerry is simply a parody of BlackBerry and that no likelihood of confusion would exist. However, the administrative trademark judge ruled that RIM's BlackBerry devices were already widely referred to by the term "Crackberry" long before the applicants attempted to register the trademarks, thus further supporting the device-maker's claim that a likelihood of confusion would be created if the term was to be registered as a trademark.

With the exception for the class for apparel, the judge also observed that there was "a close relationship between opposer's registered goods and services and applicant's recited services."

A multinational telecommunications company, Research in Motion is based in Ontario, Canada and designs, manufactures, and markets wireless mobile devices for the global telecommunications market. Its BlackBerry line of smartphone devices was produced in 1999 and are designed to function as personal digital assistants, providing mobile phone services, media capabilities, Internet browsing, gaming, and much more.