This is an epic tale of the battle over the stolen GASPARILLA trademark. If you are not from the Tampa Bay, chances are you’ve never heard the word “Gasparilla.” However, for us, Tampanians, Gasparilla is more than just a word—Gasparilla is a tradition that is inseparably intertwined with the essence of our community. Every year, over half-a-million people put on elaborate pirate costumes, gather their “krewes,” and channel their inner pirates to participate in the invasion of Tampa’s streets and waterways.

The tradition of Gasparilla dates back to 1904. Inspired by the legend of pirate Jose Gaspar—known as the “last of the Buccaneers”—a group of prominent community leaders founded the infamous Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (“YMKG”) and staged a pirate invasion of Tampa, which became known as the “Gasparilla.” The rest is history.

Unbeknownst to YKMG, a resident of a small town near Tampa organized a mermaid beauty pageant and decided to name it “Gasparilla.” In 2008, this small-town resident applied for and successfully obtained a federal trademark registration for the GASPARILLA trademark. And that’s how the mermaids stole Gasparilla from the pirates.

In 2017, YKMG filed its own federal trademark application for the GASPARILLA trademark for “conducting annual parades on land and at sea.” The United State Patent and Trademark Office, however, rejected YKMG’s application based on the existing registration for the mermaid beauty pageant. Infuriated by this injustice, the good ‘ole pirates of YKMG filed a cancellation proceeding against the mermaids. And that’s how an epic battle began.

As of January 2020, the cancellation proceeding is still in its initial stages. As true Tampanians and trademark geeks, we will be watching closely and cheering on our colleagues at Trenam Law who are representing our good friends at YKMG.

The moral of the story: Protect your treasure. Your trademark is a valuable asset and a delay in applying for a federal registration can damage your brand. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to design a trademark strategy that will help you grow and protect you brand. We have secured over 1,500 trademark registrations for our clients.