Monday, January 16, 2012

A Real Dog of a Trademark Case

People take their pets very seriously . . . and apparently the same is true with respect to their pet store trademarks.

On January 13, 2012, Puparazzi Industries of America LLC (“PIA”) filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Arizona against Puparazzi Pet Spa LLC (“PPS”).  See Puparazzi Industries of America LLC v. Puparazzi Pet Spa LLC, Case No. 12-cv-00084 (D. Ariz.).  A copy of the complaint can be downloaded here.

According to the complaint, PIA is a mobile pet grooming van that provides its pet grooming services throughout the Phoenix, Arizona area using the marks PUPARAZZI MOBILE PET SPAW and WHERE YOUR PET’S THE STAR (which it claims to have been using in the area since May 10, 2010) and with bright pink and purple colors on its grooming van. 

PIA only recently filed to register the mark PUPARAZZI MOBILE PET SPAW (which contains the odd concurrent use information “Regional and National).  [Sidenote: The application does not appear to have been filed by an attorney, but instead by the company’s managing member].    The same company had an application on file for PUPARAZZI INDUSTRIES OF AMERICA (filed March 2010), but when it came time to show use of the mark, all that it could muster up was its specimen showing the mark PUPARAZZI MOBILE PET SPAW.  The PTO rejected both the specimen of use (since it did not show the mark as applied in use) as well as the applicant’s attempt to alter the “drawing” of the mark from PUPARAZZI INDUSTRIES OF AMERICA to PUPARAZZI MOBILE PET SPAW (a material alteration). 

PIA claims that defendant PPS began operating a pet grooming store in Phoenix, Arizona, using the marks PUPARAZZI PET SPA and EVERY DOG IS A STAR! (and the color pink on its website and facebook account) around September 2011.  PIA’s causes of action are for federal trademark infringement and unfair competition. 

This looks more like an example of a local “pet grooming store” name battle between two local business competitors (not as uncommon as you might think), rather than a company beginning to exert trademark rights to the word PUPARAZZI.  I suspect that PIA’s “concurrent use” claim in its trademark application is a recognition by the owner of the company that there are other companies out there using the PUPARAZZI mark in connection with similar services including Puparazzi Dog Spa (in North Aurora, Illinois) and Puparazzi Pet Grooming (in Green Bay, Wisconsin).  There is also a pet photographer using the name Puparazzi Portraits.  And one man owns the registered trademark for PUPARAZZI in connection with pet clothing.  

And to the extent PIA is able to prove both that it is the prior user of the mark the Phoenix, Arizona area as well as the scope of its reputation in the Phoenix, Arizona area, then it may very well likely be able to get PPS to change its name.    

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