Attempt to Register “WINGS” Doesn’t Fly with TTAB

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) affirmed the examining attorney’s refusal to register Red Bull’s “WINGS” trademark on the grounds that the company’s use of the mark did not function as a trademark.

In a decision that is not citable, the TTAB found that the examiner was correct in refusing registration of the mark WIINGS based upon the specimens submitted by Red Bull evidencing use. In the first place, specimens did show the word “wings,” but only as a tagline, such as “Red Bull Gives You Wiiiings, ” “Now Available Sugar Free Wiiings,” and “4 Cans. 8 Wiiings.” In the second place, the specimens did not show the mark in substantially exactly the way the mark was applied for, namely as “WINGS” (with a single “i”). The TTAB noted that even if the mark were to be considered substantially the same as the submitted specimen, the fact that the mark was not used in a trademark sense would still defeat a registration of the mark.

Practice Pointer: Although the decision is not citable, the holding is accurate: specimens submitted to the PTO to show use of a trademark must be a substantially exact representation of the trademark as applied for. In this case, if the applicant had applied for “RED BULL GIVES YOU WINGS” and the evidence showed the mark using the term “WIIIINGS,” it’s likely that the mark would have proceeded to registration with a simple amendment to the drawing page.

Download full text of decision HERE

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