Look up “trademark troll” in the dictionary….actually, who has a dictionary anymore. Google “trademark troll” and you might come across a picture of this company. A Los Angeles based company has been filing trademark after trademark registration for famous slogans and brands related to Disney, Nintendo and even Kobe Bryant but has no relationship with these intellectual property owners. Now, these intellectual property owners are starting to fight back.
Searching for 47 / 72 Inc. (“47”) doesn’t turn up many results other than a TON of trademark filings. In March 2016, the Los Angeles based company, or as alleged on the trademark registration applications, began filing suspicious requests with the Trademark Office. 47 began filing intent to use registrations (meaning that they intend to use the mark in commerce but currently do not distribute product with the mark on it) for well-known names and phrases. Some of these filings include the following:
- 99 Problems
- This is Your Brain on Drugs
- Let it Go
- Team Mystic
- Team Instinct
- Team Valor
- Black Mamba
- To Infinity and Beyond
I could go on but, in total, the company has filed 69 trademark registration applications for products that do not exist. Very fishy. In September, an employee of the company told an online media outlet that he believes he can trademark these terms because their owners haven’t registered them for the same class of goods, namely online retail. The marks cover printed these trademarks on t-shirts and other clothing items. Well, some are objecting to that statement.
So far 47 is involved in 15 separate fights over some of these marks. Some of the companies that have lined up to oppose these marks include Disney fighting over TO INFINITY AND BEYOND, HOUSE OF MOUSE, LET IT GO, OKANA MEANS FAMILY and Kobe Byant has opposed the registration of his famous nickname, BLACK MAMBA. Surprisingly, Nintendo, Pokémon Co., Niantic or any of the billion companies that own some rights to the Pokémon franchise did not oppose the registration of the Pokémon Go team names; a big mistake.
So question is this behavior legal? You cannot file an intent to use mark with the Trademark Office if you have no bona fide intent to actually use it; this is called fraud on the Trademark Office. So 47 must have the actual intent to print up shirts with the marks on it; its almost been a year since its first filing and still nothing yet. Also, not only can people oppose the mark but the company can be sued for trademark infringement when (or more correctly if) the unauthorized use of the marks goes into commerce (when the shirts are sold). The question that I have always had about these suspicious filings is why the Trademark Office doesn’t investigate them more or why the attorney that is filing them is not questioned. The bubble will burst soon for both 47 and their attorney unless the company actually starts selling some products.