August 01, 2014

CR7: Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Christopher Renzi

by Guest Blogger

By Justin McNaughton

If you don't follow soccer (or you live under a rock), you may not have heard of Cristiano Ronaldo; otherwise you have. Check out these skills:

You probably have not heard of Christopher Renzi. Turns out Renzi has a U.S. trademark registration for CR7 in the U.S. for "Fashion Clothing, namely, jeans and t-shirts" and Ronaldo is known as CR7 (his number is 7 with Real Madrid) and has a licensee called JBS Textile Group A/S (I'm calling this group his crew). Quick summary is that Ronaldo and crew have petitioned to cancel Renzi's trademark registration, and Renzi has now sued Ronaldo and crew in federal court for a declaratory judgment that Renzi does not infringe any rights of Ronaldo and crew.

I started out thinking I would write this from the perspective of Renzi the underdog, but after about ten minutes of searching, I gave up. I can't find any website or advertisement for any of his products, so I have no idea what he actually sells, if anything.

I did notice a fun little goal attempt by Renzi in the trademark office's trademark file. There is an odd little quirk in trademark law called "incontestability." Basically, it goes that after 5 years you can file a declaration and your trademark becomes incontestable. This means that after that time, your trademark registration can only be challenged for a few things (basically it becomes a generic term, was obtained by fraud or is abandoned). The signed and dated declaration (Section 15 declaration) requires a fee and a statement that you (1) have continuously used it in commerce for five years; (2) have not received a final decision adverse to your claim of ownership of the mark; and (3) there is no proceeding regarding your claimed rights pending in the USPTO or a court.

Renzi's 5 year waiting period ended June 16, 2014. Unfortunately, on May 22, 2014 Ronaldo's crew filed a petition to cancel Renzi's trademark. Renzi went ahead and filed a signed declaration with the USPTO on June 17, 2014 certifying those three things. Referee's discretion, but that could be a red card.

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