TTAB Reverses False Connection Refusal of "MARIA CALLAS" for Jewelry
In order to establish this Section 2(a) bar to registration of a now-deceased natural person's name, the PTO must show, inter alia, that there are heirs or other successors who are entitled to assert that person's right to the use of the designation. Here, the "contradictory" evidence led the Board to give the Applicant the benefit of the doubt.
. . . Based on the totality of the evidence of record, the Board expressed its "doubt as to whether there is any successor in interest entitled to assert rights, as contemplated under Section 2(a), to the Maria Callas name or persona. In other words, it is unclear whether the rights that Ms. Callas once possessed in her name or persona devolved to anyone. The record is replete with contradictory information on this point."
Because the burden of proof is on the PTO to establish that applicant’s mark falsely suggests a connection with the particular name or persona, the Board sided with Applicant: "In view of the significant doubt remaining as to whether anyone currently possesses rights in the name 'Maria Callas,' and resolving such doubt in applicant’s favor, we find that the examining attorney has not met her burden in establishing the false suggestion of a connection refusal under Section 2(a)." . . .