Somewhere in Los Angeles . . .
That’s right, folks. (For now), there’s a head shop in Los Angeles called BUZZ “R” US.
Geoffrey, LLC owns the famous TOYS “R” US and BABIES “R” US marks. In case you don’t know much about the “R”US family of brands, Geoffrey is their mascot. He’s a seemingly affable giraffe who even has his own birthday club for kids (not surprisingly named BIRTHDAYS “R” US)! However, this giraffe has something most other giraffes don’t — a burning desire to protect the “R” US family of brands from trademark infringement and dilution, and a legal team to help him fulfill his wish.
A USPTO search for marks that contain “R US” reveals 284 PTO records that include the words “R US” in the mark. Of these, only 39 records remain LIVE, 30 of which belong to Geoffrey, LLC. Of the 245 DEAD PTO records, only 65 are owned by Geoffrey, LLC. The remaining 180 DEAD “R” US PTO records are third party marks, all but 6 of which were abandoned at the application stage. Is this a coincidence? I think not. Geoffrey does not play well with others. In order to protect the distinctiveness of his “R” US marks, he is unwilling to share the “R” US sandbox with anyone else, and especially other brand owners.
The 5 “R” US marks that somehow made it past Geoffrey (must have been his nap time) are:
BAGS R US (canceled by the TTAB in 1983)
INSURANCE R US (canceled by the TTAB in 1988)
BOOKS “R” US (Canceled for failure to renew in 1989, even though the TTAB ordered cancellation as a result of the registrant’s default in a Cancellation proceeding in 1986)
SNACS.R.US (canceled by the TTAB in 1988)
Currently, Geoffrey is Opposing or Petitioning to Cancel: BINGO R US; LABELSRUS; TREES “R” US; WATER HEATERS R US; GOLF APPAREL R US; and POLOS R US. Geoffrey also sought Extensions of Time to Oppose some marks that don’t even appear to have “R” US in them save for incidentally: MARTRUS (for; EVITARUS; and (my favorite) INSPIRUS. One thing is for certain; if you get too close to the famous “R” US marks, Geoffrey will come after you.
Think before you brand. Be original. If you think someone else’s brand is really cool, support that brand by buying what they’re selling, not by being a copycat. Copycats weren’t cool in grade school and they’re even less cool in the business world. As my friend, Gail Larsen says, “Be Yourself. Everyone else is taken.”