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Remember the Rambler? Trademark Board Does

Rambler_american_1stgeneration_blue Remember the Rambler? In the 1950s, it was a popular and inexpensive small car made by the Nash-Kelvinator Corp. When Nash become American Motors Corporation in 1954 and George Romney became the company's chairman, the Rambler line was expanded and the name became a brand. In 1963, the Rambler was Motor Trend Car of the Year. But in 1969, AMC discontinued the Rambler, and by 1987, AMC itself was no more, its assets acquired by Chrysler Corp. In the years since, Chrysler appeared to have abandoned the Rambler trademark. So Anthony S. Pimpo probably thought the road was clear for him to register the name for use in a business pertaining to automobiles and parts. Chrysler, however, thought otherwise, and the case made its way to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Chrysler v. Pimpo).

At The TTABlog, John L. Welch explains that, in opposing Pimpo's application, Chrysler pointed to the automobile industry's occasional use of "heritage brands" to introduce new models. But the TTAB found that there was no evidence that Chrysler had plans to reintroduce the Rambler line. Chrysler fared no better with its argument that the Rambler name enjoys "residual goodwill," given its nearly four decades without using the name. With two strikes and no one on base, Chrysler finally managed to hit a home run on the issue of merchandise licensing under the Rambler name.The board ruled that Chrysler "has priority of use, at the very least with respect to key rings, calendars, decals, specification sheets and owner's manuals, all relating to Rambler automobiles."

Welch appears to find some irony in this outcome. "So there is not enough residual goodwill to avoid abandonment of the Rambler mark for automobiles, but there apparently is enough to cause consumers to associate ancillary goods with the old automobile," he writes. "I guess one can eat his cake and have it too."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 13, 2008 at 03:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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