Introduction

Royal Crown Inc., Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc., (“Royal Crown”) appealed from a decision made by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“Board”) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The decision made dismissed Royal Crown’s consolidated opposition of sixteen trademarks proposed by competitor The Coca-Cola Company (“Coca-Cola”). Coca-Cola filed to use a ZERO branding on sixteen of its products. Royal Crown claimed that each of the ZERO marks Coca-Cola proposed are generic or descriptive of the zero calories attributes of the beverage. In their consolidated opposition, Royal Crown argued that each registration must be denied “absent the entry of a disclaimer of the term zero”.

The Board dismissed Royal Crown’s opposition, stating that Royal Crown did not provide enough evidence that ZERO is generic in soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks. While Coca-Cola has proven the term ZERO has acquired distinctiveness in soft drinks and sports drinks, they had not proven acquired distinctiveness for energy drinks. Therefore, the Board has held that Coca-Cola’s applications can register even in the absence of a disclaimer of the term ZERO.

Royal Crown appealed to The Federal Circuit (“Circuit”). The Circuit vacated the Board’s decision due to the incorrect legal standard of generic-ness in the term ZERO, and for failing to make a finding on the term’s descriptiveness before addressing acquired distinctiveness. The Circuit remanded the case to the Board to fix the matters that were brought forth.

Decision

Coca-Cola filed a motion to amend each of their applications to disclaim the term ZERO. Royal Crown argued the motion and stated it was improper and not case dispositive. The Board noted that the relief was given to Royal Crown as requested, and The Board decided to move forward with Coca-Cola. The Board entered a disclaimer for each application and dismissed Royal Crown’s opposition. Royal Crown filed an appeal, and the USPTO filed a motion to intervene which was granted by the Board.  

Royal Crown raised three challenges to the Board decision.

1.         Royal Crown claimed that “granting Coca-Cola’s post-trial, unconsented-to motion was procedurally improper and thus arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.” (p5)

2.         Royal Crown argued that, “by simply entering Coca-Cola’s disclaimer, the Board shirked its obligation to render a reasoned decision under the APA and deprived Royal Crown and this court of a decision on the merits.” (p5)

3.         “Royal Crown denies that Coca-Cola’s disclaimer mooted this appeal because Coca-Cola may file new applications for ZERO-inclusive marks or assert such scope for the instant proposed marks in future litigation.” (p5)

Coca-Cola responded that in fact the appeal is moot because of the Board’s entry of Coca-Cola’s disclaimers. This granted Royal Crown the relief they requested and stated the Board can grant an uncontested motion to amend an application “under 37 C.F.R. § 2.133(a)” (p.6). Royal Crown did not oppose registration of the mark per se, rather it opposed the marks being used without a disclaimer. Therefore, Royal Crown has received all the relief they initially requested.

The Federal Circuit agreed with Coca-Cola. The Board did not abuse their discretion in granting Coca-Cola’s motion.

Royal Crown attempted to show that the Board had interrupted regulation to forbid an uncontested motions after trial by citing “§ 2.133(a) does not allow amendments or disclaimers ‘except with the consent of the other party or parties and the approval of the [Board], or upon motion granted by the Board.’” (p.6) In conclusion, Royal Crown’s claim that the Board is powerless to grant a motion to enter a disclaimer and to give all relief requested by an opposer did not stand.

Coca-Cola’s disclaimer granted what Royal Crown originally wanted. Coca-Cola was able to use the ZERO mark if there was a disclaimer following it. Royal Crown did not argue for Coca-Cola to not use the mark in general, therefore, Royal Crown has already received what they requested from the Board.

In conclusion, Royal Crown has obtained what it wanted from the court which was a disclaimer for the term ZERO in each application at issue. Accordingly, there is no controversy for this court to decide. The Federal Circuit has considered Royal Crown’s argument and has considered it unpersuasive, so the Court dismisses Royal Crown’s appeal.

 

Conclusion

From this case, we can see how important it is to study details. As we see from the decision, Royal Crown technically obtained what they wanted, which was Coca-Cola using a disclaimer for the ZERO brand. In contrast, we also see Royal Crown’s appeal failed due to lack of persuasiveness. When it came to the arguing if Coca-Cola could amend their claims, we saw that Royal Crown could not provide a persuasive argument. One should always proceed with caution when making decisions based on minutia details and ensure that they are prepared to defend any possible stance.

Full Royal Crown Company Inc. v Coca-Cola Company decision can be read here:

www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/19-2088.OPINION.8-3-2020_1629464.pdf

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed throughout this blog are the views and opinions of the individual author(s) and/or contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of our firm, CIONCA IP Law. P.C.

PATENT and IP Law Blog

  • CIONCA IP TEAM (JM)10/8/2020 2:57:24 PM

    Royal Crown Company Inc., Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc., v The Coca-Cola Company

    More
  • CIONCA IP TEAM (SG)10/6/2020 2:42:35 PM

    Apple, Inc., v. Voip-Pal.com, Inc.: Sanction Orders and Obviousness

    More
  • CIONCA IP Team (SE)9/16/2020 4:21:45 PM

    CIONCA IP Launches New Online Patent Website

    More
  • CIONCA IP Team9/15/2020 5:11:49 PM

    Comparing Apples to Apples: TTAB on In re Horizon Group USA, Inc.

    More
  • CIONCA IP Team9/3/2020 4:30:41 PM

    D2 Holdings v. House of Cards

    More
  • CIONCA IP Team8/31/2020 12:09:17 PM

    Blackbird Tech LLC, DBA Blackbird Technologies, v. Fitbit, Inc., Wahoo Fitness LLC: Obviousness

    More
  • CIONCA IP Team8/11/2020 11:56:24 AM

    Adidas AG v. Nike INC.

    More
  • CIONCA IP Team7/20/2020 7:40:21 PM

    Fitbit Inc. v. Valencell Inc.: Joint Parties in IPR Proceeding

    More
  • CIONCA IP Team7/14/2020 7:51:31 PM

    CIONCA IP Launches New Online Trademark Website

    More
  • CIONCA IP 5/19/2020 7:36:30 PM

    Uber Technologies, Inc. v. X One, Inc.: “Obvious to Try” Rationale

    More
  • Marin Cionca4/15/2020 4:41:43 PM

    The Day After COVID-19 Pandemic – Hope or Fear?

    More
  • CIONCA IP4/13/2020 9:33:36 PM

    Two of a Kind: TTAB on Shannon DeVivo v. Celeste Ortiz

    More
  • CIONCA IP3/16/2020 8:43:10 PM

    GS CleanTech Corporation v. Adkins Energy, LLC: Inequitable Conduct

    More
  • CIONCA IP3/10/2020 7:45:30 PM

    Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Google LLC, Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Mobile Inc.

    More
  • Marin Cionca2/9/2020 7:46:10 PM

    Analogous Prior Art or Not? A critical patent obviousness question

    More
  • CIONCA IP 1/15/2020 4:47:19 PM

    FOX Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC: Presumption of Nexus

    More
  • CIONCA IP 1/9/2020 4:43:58 PM

    The Bigger Picture: TTAB’s Decision in In re James Haden, M.D., P.A.

    More
  • CIONCA IP 12/31/2019 4:29:41 PM

    The Chamberlain Group, INC. v. One World Technologies, INC.

    More
  • Marin Cionca12/9/2019 8:07:20 PM

    A “glove” approach to patent claim construction

    More
  • 11/15/2019 8:15:11 PM

    Liqwd, Inc. v. L’Oreal USA, Inc.: Objective Indicia and Copying

    More
  • CIONCA IP10/16/2019 1:28:13 PM

    To Use or Not to Use: The Statutory Period of Trademark Nonuse Prior to Presumed Abandonment

    More
  • CIONCA IP10/7/2019 5:44:50 PM

    A Decision in Henny Penny Corporation v. Frymaster LLC

    More
  • Marin Cionca9/27/2019 9:32:48 PM

    Can an Online Patent Attorney File My Patent?

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member9/4/2019 7:20:46 PM

    Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co. v. International Trade Commission: Objective Boundaries

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member8/19/2019 7:46:17 PM

    In re Yarnell Ice Cream, LLC: Trademark Descriptiveness and Acquired Distinction

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member8/5/2019 2:29:33 PM

    Is Speculation Enough Evidence for an Appeal?: General Electric Company v. United Technologies Corporation

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member7/5/2019 2:22:42 PM

    In re: Global IP Holdings LLC: Broadening Claims Through Reissue Applications

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member6/27/2019 7:41:52 PM

    Obviousness in a Single Prior Art Instance: Game and Technology Co., LTD., v. Activision Blizzard INC., Riot Games, INC.

    More
  • Marin Cionca6/11/2019 8:43:17 PM

    Can I Successfully License My Invention?

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member5/20/2019 8:25:57 PM

    PTAB Designates Cases as Precedential

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member5/7/2019 7:13:41 PM

    The Federal Circuit Defines a Technological Invention

    More
  • Marin Cionca4/17/2019 3:48:33 PM

    What Qualifies as Proper Use in Commerce Claim in a USPTO Trademark Application?

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member4/3/2019 7:25:37 PM

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Designates Three Decisions Precedential

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member3/21/2019 3:49:43 PM

    Defining Inherency: A Decision in Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc.

    More
  • Marin Cionca3/1/2019 9:36:50 PM

    USPTO Director Andrei Iancu Visits Orange County!

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member2/19/2019 7:12:46 PM

    Revised Guidance by USPTO on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility and Examining Computer-Implemented Functional Claims

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member2/5/2019 7:22:27 PM

    TiVo Puts Tivoli on Pause: TTAB’s Decision in TiVo Brands LLC v. Tivoli, LLC

    More
  • Marin Cionca1/23/2019 9:45:30 PM

    Patent Law Alert: All Sales of the Invention, Including Secret Sales May Invalidate a Patent

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member1/4/2019 4:12:21 PM

    In re: Tropp: New Matter in a Continuation Can Be Relevant to Written Description Requirement

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member12/18/2018 6:12:48 PM

    Schlafly v. The Saint Louis Brewery: The Registration of Merely a Surname

    More
  • Marin Cionca12/8/2018 8:35:06 PM

    IP Assets - Procurement, Enforcement, Monetization

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member11/19/2018 1:07:51 PM

    The Appeals Process

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member10/16/2018 6:50:31 PM

    A Double-Edged Sword: Benefit of Priority or Longer Patent Term

    More
  • Marin Cionca10/1/2018 7:42:12 PM

    Can I Register a Color as a Trademark or Service Mark?

    More
  • CIONCA Team Member9/17/2018 4:33:20 PM

    Trademarks and Likelihood of Confusion: Federal Circuit’s Decision in In re: Detroit Athletic Co.

    More
  • Staff8/31/2018 7:26:58 PM

    Patent Claim Interpretation By Federal Circuit's on Facebook's Contiguous Image Layout

    More
  • Staff8/16/2018 4:24:01 PM

    Correcting or Changing a Patent After Issue Through the Central Reexamination Unit

    More
  • Marin Cionca7/31/2018 6:50:05 PM

    My patent expired? Can I still sue for patent infringement?

    More
  • 7/3/2018 7:44:33 PM

    Impax Laboratories Inc. v Lannett Holdings Inc. on Claim Invalidation

    More
  • CIONCA IP5/17/2018 9:54:58 PM

    Marin Cionca Presents at OCIPLA May 2018 Luncheon

    More
  • 5/4/2018 7:37:51 PM

    The Hague System for Protection of International Designs

    More
  • CIONCA Staff4/20/2018 5:25:25 PM

    USPTO Changes Examination Procedure Pertaining to Subject Matter Eligibility in View of Berkheimer v. HP, Inc.

    More
  • CIONCA Staff4/13/2018 9:10:04 PM

    It Take Two to Tango: Knowles v. Iancu, a Standing Dispute in a PTAB Decision

    More
  • 3/20/2018 12:50:05 PM

    Andrei Iancu - New Director of the USPTO

    More
  • 3/8/2018 1:25:46 PM

    Proceed with Caution: Consider Carefully when Narrowing Claims for Allowance

    More
  • CIONCA Team2/16/2018 4:07:48 PM

    Fashion and Intellectual Property

    More
  • CIONCA Team1/17/2018 8:12:06 PM

    A Fork in the Road: Production or Protection?

    More
  • 1/2/2018 7:47:09 PM

    The Lanham Act: Disparagement Provision Violates the First Amendment

    More
  • 12/26/2017 6:04:25 PM

    CIONCA Sets Foot in San Francisco

    More
  • 12/1/2017 8:01:27 PM

    An Introduction to Patent Cooperation Treaty Applications

    More
  • 11/17/2017 1:24:20 PM

    An Introduction to Patent Searches

    More
  • 11/10/2017 6:47:44 PM

    An Introduction to Design Patent Applications

    More
  • Staff11/3/2017 4:20:04 PM

    An Introduction to Provisional Patent Applications

    More
  • Staff9/28/2017 7:27:22 PM

    CIONCA

    More
  • staff9/27/2017 5:12:07 PM

    CIONCA - Patent and Trademark Law Attorney

    More
  • staff9/27/2017 5:00:12 PM

    Claim Indefiniteness During Patent Pre-Issuance: Define Your Invention, Not Just Your Audience

    More
  • staff9/15/2017 9:33:30 PM

    cionca

    More
  • CIONCA Staff8/20/2017 3:16:11 PM

    CIONCA on Patents: Think Twice Before Suing for Patent Infringement and Fight Back when Unreasonably Sued

    More
  • CIONCA - Staff8/9/2017 5:39:58 PM

    Patent Case Study: The Novelty Of An “Invention” Is NOT Enough To Make It Patentable

    More
  • CIONCA - Staff6/28/2017 8:26:07 PM

    Patent Law: Conditions Precedent May Expose Method Claim to Broad Interpretation During Prosecution

    More
  • CIONCA - Staff6/15/2017 5:32:14 PM

    Patent Law: Challenging the Patent Claim Definiteness Requirement

    More
  • Marin Cionca4/25/2017 9:48:49 PM

    Monetization of Patents: How to Make Money with Patents

    More
  • Marin Cionca2/21/2017 12:30:52 AM

    Software Patent Law Update: Federal Circuit Finds Graphical User Interface Patentable

    More
  • Marin Cionca9/15/2016 9:47:39 PM

    Patent Law Alert: Federal Circuit Opens Door for More Software Patents

    More
  • Marin Cionca9/6/2016 9:26:12 PM

    Patent Case Law: New Example of Software as Patentable Subject Matter

    More
  • Iris Kim, PhD6/1/2016 7:04:50 PM

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Five More Decisions as Precedential

    More
  • Marin Cionca5/17/2016 8:57:23 PM

    Patent Claims Rejection Based on Inherency

    More
  • Iris Kim, PhD3/25/2016 8:34:14 PM

    Challenging a Claim’s Validity with Different Standards of Claim Construction

    More
  • I. Kim PhD2/26/2016 8:47:51 PM

    The U.S. Supreme Court Will Review Claim Construction Standards and Institution Decision Reviewability.

    More
  • Marin Cionca2/16/2016 6:34:53 PM

    In IPRs, patentees have to show that substitute patent claims are patentable

    More
  • M. Cionca and I. Kim2/4/2016 5:55:16 PM

    Software Inventions Are Still Patentable!

    More
  • Marin1/28/2016 9:15:16 PM

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Two Decisions as Precedential

    More
  • Marin1/28/2016 9:10:56 PM

    How Unpredictability Can Affect Obviousness Challenges

    More
  • Marin11/19/2015 2:13:05 PM

    An Innovator’s Dilemma: Design or Utility Patent?

    More
  • Marin11/18/2015 7:31:35 PM

    When Is a Thesis Prior Art?

    More
  • Marin11/18/2015 6:15:40 PM

    Covered Business Method Claims Are Not Required to Particularly Target Financial Industry

    More
  • Marin11/18/2015 6:11:11 PM

    PTAB Decisions Give Examples of Patent Eligible Subject Matter

    More

Marin Cionca, Esq.

Registered Patent Attorney

USPTO Reg. No. 63899

VERIFY

CONTACT INFO

About CIONCA® IP Law firm: We are an Orange County, CA based boutique intellectual property firm with a focus on patent and trademark application, prosecution, opinion, licensing and IP enforcement services, offering its IP services primarily at flat fee rates. We serve local OC clients, as well as clients throughout US and international clients.

HOME               

Let’s talk!

We’d love to hear from you…we just need a little info
about your plans to take over the world!

P.S…Feel free to call us! (800)985-9198