“R” What?!?

Posted by | March 08, 2011 | General | One Comment

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:

CAREERS R US (“abandoned” after inter parties proceeding before the TTAB in 2002)

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 USLABELSRUS; TREES “R” USWATER 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.”

About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.

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