The story of an African lion in Zimbabwe named Cecil has made headlines around the world after he was shot and killed by a hunter in July. As noted on Cecil’s Wikipedia page, “[t]he killing drew international media attention and sparked outrage among animal conservationists, politicians and celebrities.”
As happens with most stories that make significant headlines, someone tries to claim rights in the name or play off the name in filings of trademark applications at the USPTO. See for example: defaltegate, Linsanity, Tebow, Boston Strong, Polar Vorex, etc.
The following USPTO trademark applications have been filed in the last few weeks [click marks for USPTO records]:
- CECIL THE LION – filed July 31st by Privage Limited for a variety of toys, apparel and other items
- KING CECIL – filed July 30th by i-Star Entertainment for “TOYS;GAMES;PLUSH;FIGURINES;POSTERS;T-SHIRTS;APPAREL;GIFTS;MUGS;NOVELTIES ;movies;film;entertainment;music;home;garden;bed room;home decor;bath;kitchen;photgraphs;statues;art;framed art;video games;television;jewelrey”
- CECIL THE LION – filed July 30th by i-Star Entertainment for “TOYS;GAMES;APPAREL;ENTERTAINMENT;PUBLISHING;GIFTS;NOVELTIES;T-SHIRTS;MUG S;VIDEO GAMES;POSTERS;PLUSH;HOME DECOR;BED ROOM;BATH;STATUES;ART;FRAMED ART;PHOTOGRAPHS;MUSIC”
- CECIL THE LION – filed July 30th by Exclusive Adventures for “charms; t-shirts; plush toys; charitable fundraising services for conserving wildlife”
- CECIL – filed July 30th by Ty Inc. for “Bean bags; Novelty toy items in the nature of plush toy animals; Plush toys; Soft sculpture plush toys; Soft sculpture toys; Stuffed and plush toys; Stuffed toy animals; Stuffed toys; Toys, namely, bean bag animals”
As noted in similar cases, such as “Boston Strong” these trademark applications will likely be refused for failing to function as a mark, ornamental use, and/or false association. Furthermore, there could be a tangled web of “priority” issues regarding who filed first. Hopefully the USPTO will proactively reject all these applications and ensure that any reference to Cecil, the lion, remains in the public domain.
HT to @ProofofUse for reporting on these applications on Twitter