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College Rivalries Never End

In an opposition to registration of the mark, HOKIE, the opposer, HOOS, LLC, a one person LLC in Virginia that stands for Hokie Objective Onomastics Society, LLC, founded by a graduate of the University of Virginia, failed to prove that the term HOKIE is generic for education and entertainment services, or that Applicant, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VA Tech), improperly used the ® symbol of registration or abandoned the mark.  Hokie Objective Onomastics Society, LLC v.  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  The TTAB resolved several evidentiary issues before reaching its decision.  In the decision, the TTAB ruled that the opposer failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the term "hokie" is recognized by the general public as referring to generic education and entertainment services.  Instead, the evidence demonstrated that this term refers to education and entertainment services offered by VA Tech.  With respect to abandonment, the opposer failed to properly introduce evidence of naked licensing of the mark, and therefor failed to prove abandonment.  Finally, the opposer failed to prove that VA Tech improperly used the ® symbol of registration with the intent to deceive the purchasing public or others in the industry that the mark is registered.

People familiar with the University of Virginia know that Hoos is a common nickname for the athletic teams and supporters of the UVA Cavaliers, one of VA Tech's biggest rivals.  The name of the opposer, HOOS, LLC, and the alma mater of the one member of the opposer, makes this case a little more interesting.  The TTAB may not agree, as they made the decision non-precedential.