Disclaimer Required in TEAM LIVESTRONG Trademark

The Lance Armstrong Foundation recently lost an appeal at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board regarding its trademark application for TEAM LIVESTRONG as it relates to the organization of sports events in the field of running, walking, cycling, and swimming; organizing community sporting events; conducting charity sporting events and tournaments.  The Trademark Office required that the Foundation disclaim the word TEAM from its mark and the Foundation refused and appealed the requirement.

A disclaimer requirement is a demand that the applicant for a trademark disclaim a portion of its mark.  Trademark law prohibits the registration of generic marks and requires that generic or merely descriptive portions of trademarks be disclaimed.  A disclaimer acknowledges that the applicant claims no rights in the disclaimed matter.  Failure to comply with a disclaimer requirement will result in a refusal to register the mark.

The Examiner at the Trademark Office alleged that TEAM was merely descriptive of the Foundation’s goods and services.  The Foundation argued that the definition of TEAM was too vague to be descriptive.  The TTAB found that it seemed obvious that the sports events be organized under the TEAM LIVESTRONG mark would, or could, include team sports.  The TTAB shot down a number of other arguments as well.  The result of all this argument isn’t necessarily the abandonment of the mark, but that the Lance Armstrong Foundation now has to make the disclaimer requirement.

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