Lucasfilm Entertainment Company won a trademark opposition in the US against an application for “MILLENNIALFALCON” in class 41: “entertainment services in nature of live musical performance by musical bands, production services of sound and music recordings”.
This trademark was applied for by Ilan Moskowitz who used it for his musical performances including parody against corporate culture and in particular one related to Disney.
Lucasfilm invoked an earlier trademark for MILLENNIUM FALCON in class 28: “Toy vehicles”. In addition they claimed that their mark had been used for many other activities and products such as entertainment services, theater productions, television programs, motion picture films, comic books, books, toys, dolls, sporting goods, bags, personal-care products, linens, towels, apparel, food, online games, computer games, video games, music, and mobile applications.
They provided the USPTO with the necessary evidence for sales, licensing agreements, advertisements etc.
As it is well-know MILLENNIUM FALCON is the name of a space ship from the Star Wars series, which have become tremendously popular for the last almost 40 years.
Ilan Moskowitz claimed that both signs were not similar. Firstly because of the three letters IAL in the first word which were different and create different meaning. Secondly because the goods and services were completely different.
The USPTO disagreed. Although the earlier mark is registered only for toys, it has been used for many different products and services for a long period of time (in the US trademark protection arises based on real market use). Additionally the phrase MILLENNIUM FALCON is very well known by all consumers.
The three different letters couldn’t overcome the similarities between both signs including from conceptual point of view.
Bearing in mind all of that, the USPTO considered that there is a possibility of consumer confusion between both trademarks. It was decided that the parody defense claim is not allowed because the marks did not have any difference in the eyes of the possible consumer and did not carry the necessary conditions for the parody claim to be valid.
Source: Ankara Patent Bureau – Cansu ÇATMA BİLEN and Önder Erol Ünsal for Lexology.