The Lincoln Project (“TLP”) as a political organization gained notoriety in 2020. It formed as a political action committee in late 2019 with the purpose of preventing the re-election of President Donald Trump. TLP filed a trademark application in June of 2020 for THE LINCOLN PROJECT for “political fundraising services” in class 036.

THE LINCOLN PROJECT for entertainment services

Unfortunately for them, Christopher J. Small (“Small”) already owns a trademark registration for THE LINCOLN PROJECT for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational and educational speaking services in the field of Abraham Lincoln era history” in class 041. He entertains with presentations, sometimes as Abraham Lincoln himself. Small instituted an opposition proceeding against TLP citing a likelihood of confusion with his mark.

Small alleges he used his mark continuously since at least as early as August 1, 2003. This date is far longer than TLP existed, let alone used the mark. Given that both marks consist of the same words, the marks are similar in wording. So similar, Small alleges several instances of actual confusion. Small alleges numerous consumers contacted him, sometimes threateningly, believing he associated with TLP. Small also alleges that TLP provided entertainment and educational services directly overlapping with his services.

Takeaways

The Examiner for TLP’s mark did not cite Small’s trademark against them. However, this is not dispositive of a lack of likelihood of confusion. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will weigh the evidence presented by both sides and evaluate the similarity of the marks using the Dupont factors. It is important to remember when looking at a likelihood of confusion case, the question is whether an ordinary consumer would be confused as to the source of the goods. Even if the goods and services are dissimilar, there can be a finding of a likelihood of confusion. TLP has until January 10 to file their response. Stay tuned folks.

FAQ

Can you trademark a deceased President’s name?

Yes, as long as both the President and his widow are deceased, consent is not needed.

Michele Lawson

Michele Lawson is a U.S. Registered Patent Attorney.