Concerns about our trademark have been addressed a multitude of times, yet persons who offer incorrect information continue to cause confusion. This post is to make it as clear as possible. The main points of interest are:
1. Genericness: We DO federally own Thread Bears®. In offering the types of products we make, only we are allowed to use these words together. Some people have claimed that this term can be used if it is in a different font type, or if it is all caps/lowercase, or if it is singular. That is not the case. Only WE are allowed to use the term–whether it appears as: THREAD BEAR, THREAD BEAR, THREAD BEARS, THREAD BEARS, thread bear, thread bear, Thread Bear, Thread Bear, Thread bear, Thread bear, Thread bears, Thread bears, Thread Bears, Thread Bears, ThReAd BeArs, ThReAd BeArS, ThReAd BeAr, ThReAd BeAr, etc. This also stands for any font size, color–and if it is underlined or italicized. If you are using this phrase to describe an item similar to ours, please check any of the above forms of typing it. If you are in fact using any of these variations of the phrase, you are in violation. If you would like to verify this Trademark Law yourself, you may do so here: http://www.bitlaw.com/source/37cfr/2_52.html
A competitor had attempted to have our registered trademark revoked on the claims of it being a generic term. They had submitted letters of protest by many bear artists after encouraging abuse of the phrase. In doing this, they had convinced a Trademark Administrator that the term was generic. You may see the Administrators opinion here: http://tdr.uspto.gov/jsp/DocumentViewPage.jsp?78553324/ADR20060124090213/Administrative%20Response/127/24-Jan-2006/sn/false#p=1
This Administrator made her opinion based on only the information the competitor submitted, which was not an unbiased, impartial assumption. HOWEVER, it is not the job of an Administrator at the Trademark office to make the final decision on a trademark case. It is the duty of the judge(s)/Board to determine if a term is generic or not. Basically, just because a lawyer/Administrator says that something is true, doesn’t make it so. It is only true if the judge(s)/Board say it is. After the Administrator posted her above opinion, the Board then submitted the final decision on the cancellation of our trademark. They denied the trademark cancellation and awarded us our trademark–clearly addressing the fact that the Administrator came to a conclusion from her own opinion, and that this is not proof of genericness. You may see the final decision here (the Board addressing the Administrator’s opinion is on pg. 7): http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=92046025&pty=CAN&eno=25
2. Disclaimers: Legally, in any trademark application, the person who seeks registration has to file a disclaimer. This disclaimer guarantees that, if ownership of the term is acquired, they will not consider people who are only using individual parts of the phrase in violation of Trademark Law. These parts are usually unregistrable. For example, in the application for Thread Bears®, we had to disclaim the term “bears.” “Bears” is an item that cannot be registered, since it is a generic word. So, if someone is just using the word “bears,” or “bear” for that matter, we cannot claim that they are in violation of our trademark. It would be a violation if it was any form of phrase in its entirety.
We are currently in litigation to acquire another trademark. A so-called “informant” of Trademark Law has taken it upon herself to announce that we had to disclaim “thread teds” and “thread bears” in our registration application to acquire “Thread Teds by Thread Bears.” She has improperly defined what disclaimers actually are.
The simplest way to explain it is this: the whole term may be registered, though individual parts of it may not be registered. This does not translate into genericness. Though some terms may not be registrable because they are generic (such as bears), other terms may not be registered because they are already owned. In disclaiming “thread bears” in this current application, it simply states that we cannot register the term “thread bears,” since it is already owned–by us. Trademark law verifies this in saying that NO disclaimer on ANY application voids out any existing registrations. Our ownership of Thread Bears® still stands. You may verify this rule here: http://www.bitlaw.com/source/15usc/1056.html
3. Policing : There have been statements made recently that we have not been policing our mark. It is very difficult to run a business, handle litigation issues, and police trademark abuse. It is especially difficult to police when there is a multitude of misinformation being passed out to the public. Abuse of our trademark has been overwhelmingly encouraged by others. We now have an outside source policing our mark. Take note: we are not required by law to give warning to a person in violation of our trademark. Consider this a warning–we can have websites/auctions removed if there is anyone misusing our trademark, OR if you are maligning our business or ownership of the trademark, OR if you are spreading misinformation/gossip about our business or trademark on any site.
Recently we have seen people who are not co-owners of our trademark attempting to permit the use of our trademark by other artists who make similar items. It is not their right to allow use of OUR trademark. We do not give them authorization to do so. If anyone has permitted, or is permitting you to use our trademark consider this–why was cancellation of our trademark sought if we, according to them, don’t own rights to the term? Why would you risk losing your website or having your auction cancelled at the risk of using “thread bears?” Would you risk it because someone, who is NOT an owner, gives you permission to? Why would anyone need an approval to use it from someone who is not involved in our business? Each artist needs to weigh their options and risks. Our outside source will be removing websites/auctions as of now. If corrections are still not made by the violators, further action WILL BE TAKEN.
The topic of our trademark is not up for discussion. If anyone has questions regarding trademark law, we encourage them to check here, or ask us directly. We have had many years of experience on the subject, and after all, it is our trademark. If you come into contact with anyone on this topic, please refer them here. These posts are available for anyone to verify trademark information.
We would like the bear world to move past this subject. It has been noted that instead of trying to malign our business and encourage illegal activity, some artists’ time would have been better spent using their talent of making incredible little things. No person should take on the duty of acting as a lawyer or trademark owner if they do not have the title.