Judges Say No To Crack, Refuse ‘Crackberry’ Trademark

Embattled BlackBerry maker Research In Motion got a rare bit of good news this week after judges refused to let a gadget site trademark the name “Crackberry.”

The ruling came after RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) asked the Trademark and Trial Appeal Board to refuse Crackberry’s request for a trademark covering clothes and internet services.

The administrative judges said it would be wrong to let another company own the word “Crackberry” because many people associated the word with RIM’s own product. They said customers could be confused because:

the public at large initially adopted the term “CrackBerry,” as a nickname for opposer’s goods, alluding to the widely-held view that users of BLACKBERRY wireless handheld devices often appear to be addicted to their device

the “CrackBerry” moniker for BLACKBERRY branded products had already achieved dictionary status as a slang term dating to the year 2000, and had then been selected “Word of the Year” (2006) by the
staff of Webster’s New World Dictionary.

The judge’s rejected Crackberry’s claim that it had a free speech right to trademark the word under the law of parody. Crackberry compared its situation to that of “Chewy Vuitton,” a dog toy company that won a lawsuit brought by a certain fashion house. But the judges in this case said that, unlike the dog toy scenario, a Crackberry trademark would reduce the value of Blackberry’s own brand.

The win may be a minor consolation prize for RIM which earlier this year lost a separate trademark case. In January, a judge said the BlackBerry maker could not call its new operating system “BBX” because the name belonged to another software maker.

Hat tip to The TTABlog.