17 February 2016Trademarks

Ninth Circuit says ‘The Rat Pack’ is generic

A US appeals court has ruled that the term ‘The Rat Pack’ is generic when used for entertainment purposes.

Yesterday, February 16, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling and ordered the US Patent and Trademark Office to amend TRP Entertainment’s trademark registration to include a disclaimer that it does not cover live shows.

“The record demonstrates that the term ‘The Rat Pack’ describes a type of live entertainment show and does not identify any particular producer of a Rat Pack tribute show,” the unanimous court ruled.

The dispute started in 2008 when TRP Entertainment filed a trademark infringement claim against Barrie Cunningham and his company BC Entertainment at the US District Court for the District of Nevada.

The dispute concerned live shows called Rat Pack that were put on by BC Entertainment in Las Vegas.

But the Nevada court ruled against TRP and said the term is generic when used in the context of live shows.

TRP appealed against the ruling but the ninth circuit upheld the decision.

The panel referred to the fact that at least 20 producers have put on a ‘Rat Pack’ show since 2008. Furthermore, the court also pointed to news and media outlets referring to the term as a genre of music.

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