This country has just finished fighting one of its toughest battles: the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. As you may be aware, Judge Kavanagh was accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Brinkley Ford during their high school careers. Dr. Ford vividly remembers the details of this event (Judge Kavanaugh denies any such occurrence) and recollects that the Judge and his friends were under the influence of alcohol during the high school party where her assault took place.
In an “attempt” to investigate this matter from more than 30 years ago the Senate judiciary held a hearing for both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. During Dr. Ford’s testimony, she was clear about what happened, clear about the impacts that the assault had on her life, and straight forward in answering all of the questions being posed. During Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony it was obvious that the impact of this testimony was having a tremendous effect on the Judge and his family, that he was well educated and would never act in the manner accused, and that he liked beer. Beer became a huge topic of conversation during this hearing.
One would never think that a woman’s sexual assault, a supreme court justice, intellectual property and beer would come to a meeting point but here we are, in 2018 where nothing seems out of the ordinary. Back to beer. During Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony he referred to beer several times. On the same day as his testimony, a Brian William Chinavare, an Ohio resident filed a TEAS Plus application for the mark “Kavanaugh Beer.” Given that Kavanaugh’s name is within the trademark section 813 of the Trademark manual requires: 1) a statement that the living person has given consent on record and 2) written consent signed by the living individual whose name is being used in the mark.
If I had to guess, I’d assume that Judge Kavanaugh would not give consent for his name to be used in this way (but again, it is 2018). It is likely, that the application that Chinavare has filed will be rejected unless he is able to get consent from Judge Kavanaugh. Section 2(c) of 15 U.S.C. §1052explicitly states:
No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it consists of or compromises a name, portrait, or signature identifying a particular living individual except by his written consent, or the name, signature, or portrait of a deceased President of the United States during the life of his widow, if any, except by the written consent of the widow.
In addition, the fact that Chinavare’s application only includes Kavanaugh’s last name and not his full name would not grant him registration without consent. Section 2 (c ) applies to shortened names, last names, nicknames, etc. where the individual is closely connected with the business where the mark is used or so closely connected that a connection could be assumed.
What a world we live in, right?