Company’s Attempt to Trademark ‘Purple Rain’ for Energy Drinks Denied

The Trademark Trial & Appeal Board (TTAB) has rejected an application to register the trademark PURPLE RAIN, finding that such a mark would create the false suggestion of a connection to the late iconic artist Prince Rogers Nelson. Where a party seeks to register a new trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, such registration may be opposed by other parties for specific reasons, including where registration would cause consumer confusion or would create a false suggestion of a bond with another party.

JHO Intellectual Property Holdings sought to register the trademark PURPLE RAIN for diet and complementary energy drinks and for “energy drinks; isotonic drinks; Non-alcoholic beverages, namely, energy drinks, ‘Sports Drinks'” and the rights to Prince’s image, name and likeness.

Paisley Park and NPG presented evidence showing that the term “Purple Rain” was associated with and often synonymous with Prince, including that PURPLE RAIN was a 13X platinum album that sold millions of copies worldwide and was the title of an Oscar-winning film. from and with Prince.

In concluding that JHO’s mark created a false suggestion of a connection to Prince, the TTAB found that: (i) JHO’s PURPLE RAIN mark was a close approximation of Prince’s identity; (ii) that PURPLE RAIN uniquely and unequivocally pointed to Prince, based on part of a survey showing that 66.3% of the general public recognized “Purple Rain” as a reference to Prince; (iii) that there was no connection between Paisley Park/NPG and JHO’s products using the mark; and (iv) that consumers would assume a connection to Prince because Paisley Park and NPG marketed a variety of products under the PURPLE RAIN brand (even though they did not specifically sell energy drinks or supplements).

In a statement, L. Londell McMillan, Managing Member of Prince Legacy, LLC, co-manager of Prince’s estate and assets, said, “As stewards of Prince’s legacy, we are delighted that the Board of administration has acknowledged the direct association ‘Purple Rain’ has with Prince, and the high likelihood that any use of ‘Purple Rain’ by a third party will create a false suggestion of a connection to Prince.

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