It might not be safe to go in the water but it is safe to go back in the kitchen. The Trademark Office has refused to register two trademarks containing JAWS citing the movie as confusingly similar but would you really confuse a cooking show with the 1975 movie?
Mr. Recipe, a “spice guru” (my dream job) whose real name is Aaron Issacson, supplies many resturants with exotic spices. In fact, his company owns a registered trademark for the MR. RECIPE mark but when he dipped his toe in the water of some new trademarks, trouble was soon lurking. In August 2013, this dispute has been going on for a while, Mr. Recipe LLC filed to register a trademark for JAWS and JAWS DEVOUR YOUR HUNGER in a class covering cooking television shows and video. These were intent to use marks meaning at the time of filing, the marks were not yet being used on a cooking program. The registrations were denied due to potential confusion with the classic movie of the same name and this dispute, like the movies, has had many sequels.
Last week, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board heard Mr. Recipe’s appeal of the denial of registration of these two marks. The TTAB cited the famousness of the JAWS trademark claiming it to be such an “iconic” movie that it set the standard for summer blockbusters. Mr. Recipe argued that the movie was famous 40 years ago but the TTAB dismissed this notion with contemporary articles claiming the movie is one of the best of all time. The TTAB ruled that since the goods and services, video recordings, are so similar, confusion is even more likely. Basically, the Trademark Office claims that if you saw a cooking video segment entitled JAWS you would likely confuse it with the movie trademark and believe it to be associated with the film when it is not.
I’m not sure about this one. Many of us when we hear the word JAWS think of the movie but there are many other products using the JAWS name. I know if I saw a cooking television program with the name, I would definitely not confuse it with the movie unless it was on a boat and the cook was named Quint. After a three year fight, Mr. Recipe’s trademark sleeps with the fishes; he can take the dispute to Federal Court but that would be another prolonged legal battle for a program that still does not appear to be airing anywhere. The end?