Looking to find a single, hairy-footed, ring-loving and miniature partner in your area, this is not the dating service for you. The Tolkien Estate has opposed an online dating service’s BIBO trademark claiming that it is confusing to its BILBO trademark made famous in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books and movies. But there is a lot more than meets the eye in this seemingly routine trademark registration and here is a teaser: it involves the rental of safes. (Mind blown)
Image of BIBO trademarkTo even begin to understand what is going on with this trademark is tale worthy of a Tolkien novel. Bibo Network LLC is a California based company that’s website appears to be based in China. This detective determined this because the website has Chinese writing on it and the fact that the basis for this trademark application is a prior registered mark in China. The website for the company has what I believe is a picture of weeds and the front end of a boat in the water with a caption that includes the word “transboundary”. What this all has to do with a dating service, I have no clue. What is even more puzzling in the trademark application which includes this description for the class of services to be covered by the trademark: “Dating services; On-line social networking services; Intellectual property consultation; Licensing of intellectual property; Intellectual property watch services; Licensing of computer software; Registration of domain names for identification of users on a global computer network; Legal document preparation services; Security consultancy; Rental of safes”. What??? So this company will not only find your perfect soulmate but will also hunt you down a safe. This really raises a red flag as to what Bibo Networks is up to. And apparently they are a competitor of mine because they also specialize in intellectual property services. Puh-lease.

A castle filled with gold to someone that can figure out what makes this is a “dating” website.
Since 1937, the original publication of *The Hobbit*, Tolkien and his estate have utilized the Baggins clan and registered trademarks related to the names including BILBO and BILBO BAGGINS.  In fact, according to the trademark opposition, behind the Bible the *Lord of the Rings* is second-most popular book among men. The opposition was a bit of a copy and paste job from the estate, mainly because I have seen similar filings before, and then the Tolkien Estate makes this claim: “The services of Applicant are so related to the goods and services sold under Opposer’s BILBO Marks that the public is likely to be confused”. Really, Tolkien Estate? Do you really have dating, safe rental and IP services? The Tolkien’s Estate goes on to claim that Bibo Network knew of the *Lord of the Rings* books and movies and adopted the BIBO mark in bad faith with intent to cause confusion and deception and to create a false suggestion that the mark is associated with Tolkien’s trademarks and works. Tolkien’s estate wants the registration refused or it unleashes Smaug. So the question to be answered is are the two marks confusing? If you went to Bibo’s “website” saw the weeds, boat and the BIBO mark would you associate it with BILBO and the books. I don’t think that is highly likely but something seems really fishy about this registration so I will reserve judgment…for now.