Foley Hoag Secures Trademark Victory for ACVSMR

June 12, 2017

Foley Hoag LLP recently secured a legal victory for the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR) in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed ACVSMR is the true owner of the "American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation" trademark.

ACVSMR is a veterinary services organization which is provisionally recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and certifies veterinarians as specialists with respect to the medical needs of athletic animals and the restoration of normal form and function after injury or illness. Dr. Sheila Lyons, who is not certified by ACVSMR but served on an early organizational committee related to its formation, argued that she first came up with ACVSMR’s name and was the rightful owner of the trademark, which she registered after departing the organization. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) disagreed with her and canceled her registration.

The Federal Circuit upheld the TTAB decision to cancel Lyons' registration, holding that Lyons does not own the mark despite having been part of the organization at its early stages and despite her claims to have invented the name.

"This is the first federal court to adopt and apply the three-part test for trademark ownership set forth in the TTAB’s Wonderbread 5 decision," said Foley Hoag partner David Kluft. "That test is designed to determine who owns a trademark as between parties who, although now opposed, were once jointly working towards the same goal. The Federal Circuit’s opinion offers courts and litigants useful guidance for situations where a trademark dispute arises between an entity and a former founding member.”

The case is Lyons v. The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, No. 2016-2055. Kluft and Foley Hoag attorney Nicole Kinsley represented ACVSMR in this matter.