Abandonment-Based Trademark Cancellation Proceedings At the U.S. Trademark Office – Florida Patent Lawyer Blog

Written by Mark Terry   

Can you cancel an active U.S. Trademark Registration that has been abandoned? As a Trademark Attorney practicing in Miami, Florida, I’ve been asked this question more than once by a client wanting to clear the path for their own registration.

The Trademark Act provides for the cancellation of a registration if the registered mark has been abandoned. See Section 14 of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1064. Under Section 45 of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1127, a mark is considered abandoned when “its use has been discontinued with intent not to resume such use.” The definition of abandonment is found in this provision, as follows:

A mark shall be deemed to be “abandoned” if either of the following occurs: (1) When its use has been discontinued with intent not to resume such use. Intent not to resume may be inferred from circumstances. Nonuse for 3 consecutive years shall be prima facie evidence of abandonment. “Use” of a mark means the bona fide use of such mark made in the ordinary course of trade, and not made merely to reserve a right in a mark. … See 15 U.S.C. §1127.

Because registrations are presumed valid under the law, the party seeking to cancel a registration on the ground of abandonment bears the burden of proof to establish the case by a preponderance of the evidence. See On-Line Careline Inc. v. America Online Inc., 229 F.3d 1080, 56 USPQ2d 1471 (Fed. Cir. 2000); and Cerveceria Centroamericana S.A. v. Cerveceria India Inc., 892 F.2d 1021, 13 USPQ2d 1307 (Fed. Cir. 1989). If petitioner makes a prima facie case of abandonment, the burden of production, i.e., going forward, then shifts to the registration holder to rebut the prima facie showing with evidence. Cerveceria v. Cerveceria, Id.

Therefore, a party seeking to cancel a U.S. trademark registration on the grounds that is has been abandoned can commence a trademark cancellation proceeding at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and he bears the burden to prove abandonment by a preponderance of the evidence. Another requirement of the Plaintiff in a trademark cancellation proceeding is standing, which shall be discussed in tomorrow’s blog entry.


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