Orange County - In the aftermath of the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon attack, no less than 8 separate trademark applications containing the words "Boston Strong" have been filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The phrase became a popular credo for Bostonians who gathered to show support for one another during a difficult time.
Two of these applications, Serial No. 85,906,569 filed by Born Into It, Inc. for "clothing and accessories" and Serial No. 85,906,495 filed by an Allston, Massachusetts individual for "Imprinting messages on wearing apparel, accessories and mugs" were filed as quickly as two days after the tragedy. The Allston Massachusetts individual has already expressly abandoned that application. Then, on April 20, 2013, three additional applications were filed by individuals in Oxford, Connecticut, New Port Richey, Florida and Brockton, Massachusetts all for apparel items. On April 22, 2013 two more applications were filed and there could be more because it takes about a week for the applications to show up online.
The bad news for those filing a BOSTON STRONG application after April 18th is that the Born Into It Application filed on April 17th will stand in the way of registration. So, that will likely knock out all but one Application filed for BOSTON STRONG COFFEE.
Another problem the applicants face is that the BOSTON STRONG phrase has recently come into widespread usage, so it will likely be very difficult to enforce trademark rights even if the trademark registered. Beyond these issues, most of the applications were filed on an intent to use basis and the applicants likely do not realize that merely printing words on a t-shirt or hat is not considered trademark use by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Instead, a trademark must act as a source identifier, so to be accepted as a specimen of use the trademark must be used on a label or hang tag.
A final issue is that most people will view the rush to register the trademark as in bad taste. The public view of any efforts to enforce rights to the BOSTON STRONG trademark by way of a cease and desist letter or by litigation would likely be viewed in an even dimmer light.
While it is not uncommon for individuals to rush out to file trademark applications involving the newest fad or latest news, as most if not all of these applicants will soon realize it is rarely a good idea.