7 March 2016Trademarks

TTAB backs down in ‘Houndstooth Mafia’ row

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has vacated its decision that rejected an opposition to the ‘Houndstooth Mafia’ trademark application, following an order from a district court.

Last month, the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama admonished the TTAB for “ignoring” its request for it to vacate its 2013 decision.

“Disagreement with an appellate court’s order (or its rationale) does not justify non-compliance,” Judge David Proctor told the TTAB in the February order.

The ‘Houndstooth Mafia’ application was filed by Alabama-based Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises and was opposed by the University of Alabama, which owns trademarks for the black and white houndstooth pattern.

The company agreed to drop its application after settling with the university. The agreement was endorsed by the district court in 2014.

Despite this, the TTAB refused to overturn its initial ruling. In a ruling handed down last year, it said its decision was not mooted on the basis of a settlement and that the court did not examine the facts of the case.

But following Proctor’s opinion the TTAB complied with the request.

On Thursday, it said it is now complying with the order: “Pursuant to the settlement of the opposers’ appeal, resulting in the consent judgment the parties agreed to ... and the district court’s February 23, 2016 order requiring the board to vacate its July 23, 2013 opinion, that opinion is vacated.”

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More on this story

25 February 2016   A US court has ordered the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to vacate a decision after the board refused to comply with a settlement that had been endorsed by the court.
17 March 2016   More than 40 US academics have written to the US Department of Justice expressing their concern that the possibility of vacating legal precedents could be improperly used by parties.