University of New Hampshire

School of Law

UNH Law To Host Live Oral TTAB Argument in an Inter Partes Case

When the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office comes to UNH Law on Thursday, September 20, students will have a rare opportunity to witness a case being discussed.

Opposition No. 91192657 addresses whether the trademark FOOTLONG may be registered by the owner of the Subway sandwich shop franchise for “sandwiches.” Subway’s application for registration is being opposed by Sheetz of Delaware, an owner of gas stations and convenience stores that sell food. Sheetz is arguing, among other arguments, that FOOTLONG is generic. Subway claims that the mark has acquired distinctiveness.

Before the oral argument, Chief Judge Gerard F. Rogers will provide a TTAB practice and procedure presentation, and Anne Gilson LaLonde, author of Gilson on Trademarks, will present on the future of nontraditional trademarks. After the live oral argument, there will be a panel discussion of the case, including a Q&A with the audience.

According to Professor Ashlyn Lembree, head of the Intellectual Property and Transaction Clinic at UNH Law, students will enjoy a unique opportunity to witness oral argument before the TTAB on whether a registration should or should not issue. TTAB oral arguments are not normally a daily occurrence, since parties may — and often do — rely on their briefs and elect to bypass the option to have oral argument. For example, the TTAB’s August 2012 hearing schedule lists eight total oral arguments, which are normally held at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

Professor Lembree added, “this oral argument is expected to be rich with a discussion of survey evidence and the law on distinctiveness.”

The event, co-sponsored by the Boston Patent Law Association and UNH Law, will take place on September 20, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. For the full event schedule, click here.

Registration is free for students, and $100-$125 for other attendees. To register, please visit the Boston Patent Law Association and click on “Event Attendee.” CLE credits will be applied for.

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