An interesting trademark dispute has arisen between Dallas Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic and his mother over the trademark LUKA DONCIC 7, which is currently owned by Doncic’s mother. I can’t imagine this is the first time there has been a familial dispute over trademark rights, but I can definitely say this is the first time that I personally have ever seen a mother and son feuding over such things. It’s odd to say the least.
According to Doncic, his mother assisted him with his “off-court business affairs” and has since he was much younger. Apparently, that included filing an application to register LUKA DONCIC 7 for basketball computer games, basketball gear, clothing, and other goods and services. Doncic has said that he gave his mother consent to register LUKA DONCIC 7 when he was younger, but he has since established his company Luka99 Inc. and filed for other trademarks, including LUKA DONCIC and ORIGINAL HOOPS OF LUKA DONCIC, which the Trademark Office rejected due to the earlier-filed LUKA DONCIC 7 mark. Accordingly, DONCIC was left with no choice other than to seek cancellation of his mother’s trademark to clear the path for the other applications.
In his petition to cancel the previously registered trademark, Doncic explained that he has a “desire to consolidate his business interests and take control of his name and identity.” The petition also alleges that “[t]he maturation of Mr. Doncic on and off the basketball court and his strong interest in pursuing philanthropic endeavors, along with the retention of a personal team of athletic and business professionals, has increased his own business acumen such that registrant’s assistance in Mr. Doncic’s business affairs has become unnecessary.” For those of you who may not be familiar with the process, in certain instances, when there is a conflicting, earlier-filed mark that is precluding the registration of a later-file mark, it may be necessary to petition the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the earlier-filed mark. Not all earlier-filed marks can be cancelled though. The petitioning party needs to have proper grounds for seeking the cancellation.
In that regard, the Petition doesn’t mince words. It states that the LUKA DONCIC 7 mark: (1) falsely suggests a connection with Mr. Doncic, (2) is registered without his consent, which Doncic revoked on July 23, 2021, and (3) has been abandoned without an intent to resume use of the mark. If proven, any of those grounds, individually, would be sufficient to cause the TTAB to cancel the LUKA DONCIC 7 mark. Although, with that said, there is an open question concerning whether a Section 2(c) consent can be revoked. The law is silent on the issue, and many experts have indicated that this could be a case that makes law in that regard.
It will be interesting to see how this case plays out. I would have assumed such a case would have already resolved, but given the relationship between the parties, it’s hard to say how things will play out. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the matter and will provide an update as things develop.