CAFC Rejects Bid to Register ‘Detroit Athletic Co.’

Written October 3, 2018

On September 10, 2018, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) decision to refuse to register “Detroit Athletic Co.” for sports apparel because the mark would likely cause confusion with a long-standing private social club. In re Detroit Athletic Co., Fed. Cir., No. 17-2361, 9/10/18. 

The Detroit Athletic Co. is a “sports specialty shop” that sells souvenirs and apparel associated with Detroit professional sports. The company applied to the USPTO for a registration in 2015 to cover retail apparel stores. The examining attorney refused registration of the mark because it was likely to cause confusion with Detroit Athletic Club, a private social club in Detroit organized in 1887 as a place for men to congregate and enjoy watching or participating in sports. The court rejected the retailer’s argument that the board misjudged the similarity of the parties’ goods, because the club wasn’t offering the full range of goods that its registration covered.