As teams wrap up Spring Training and get ready for Opening Day, there is one team that didn’t take the winter off. The World Champion Chicago Cubs continue to battle trademark registrations but this latest one is a head scratcher. The Cubs took on Citizens Union Bank which is trying to register the trademark for its acronym CUB but may have realized it was an error.
The Cubs’ newest target is Louisville based Citizens United Bank. In their short, opposition, the team claims the Bank’s obvious acronym ‘CUB’ – is easily confused with the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team’s marks. In their opposition, the Chicago Cubs claim that the CUB mark for banking and financial services is “likely, when used in connection with [Citizens United]’s services, to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and to deceive the trade and public.” The Chicago Cubs believe that usage by Citizens United would lead the public “to believe that … their origin is with the [Chicago Cubs].”
The Cubs are overreaching here, and I certainly wouldn’t be the first to accuse the org of doing so. As the Cubs baseball team has improved, culminating in their World Series win last year, the org has increased their trademark actions tremendously, filing oppositions against marks both big and small (but mostly small). Despite the fact that several hundred W trademarks coexist, and the Cubs are far from known primarily for their W mark, the Cubs have objected to a seemingly innocuous W trademark anyway. I guess at this point the Cubs mark starts to look a little bit like every letter if you squint hard enough. Plus when someone mentions banking at ‘CUB’ – my mind immediately jumps to the World Series winning Chicago Cubs. I guess that’s because you know the banking services will be a home run?
Jokes aside – NO. The Chicago Cubs do not come to my mind. And a CUB bank certainly wouldn’t be misconstrued by a substantial majority of reasonable people as being approved, related to or affiliated in any way with the Chicago Cubs. The org’s slightly over three-page notice of opposition is almost entirely void as to any argument why the marks would be confusing. Perhaps this comes from a strategy of opposing everything, and seeing what sticks, especially following the over 49 TTAB petitions filed by the org in their winning year.
But this trademark opposition has a happy come-from-behind victory for the bank, perhaps. Maybe feeling some of the pushback and hearing accusations of trademark bulling, a few days after filing its opposition, the Cubs suspended its opposition cause the parties entered into settlement discussions. So now it looks like it may be smooth sailing for this CUB trademark. Cha-ching for the bank.
Author, Christopher Aranguren, is a 2L at Brooklyn Law School. Chris focuses his studies in all aspects of Intellectual Property to master IP in both the physical and digital world.