Bill Loizon, a Birminghan, Michigan entrepreneur with a self-proclaimed “passion for humor,” sought to register the trademark FRANKS ANATRA for his award-winning catering business. FRANKS referred to his specialties, hot dogs and sausages, and ANATRA is Italian for “duck.” Get it?
Neither did Frank Sinatra Enterprises, which filed an opposition proceeding in the Trademark Office to prevent Loizon from registering the mark. In an opinion which in places reads like a fan letter to Old Blue Eyes, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board last week ruled against Loizon.
The TTAB quoted at length various posthumous encomiums and concluded that the “evidence establishes that Frank Sinatra is an iconic figure in American culture.” Starting from that indisputable premise, the Board seemed to give the opposer’s factual and legal arguments minimal scrutiny. I am not so convinced that FRANK SINATRA and FRANKS ANATRA are visually all that similar, and try as I might I cannot get them to sound “phonetically equivalent.” Nor is as apparent to me as it was to the Board that in the realm of hot dog peddling FRANKS ANATRA “points uniquely and unmistakably to Frank Sinatra,” or that upon encountering Loizon’s truck consumers would find hot dogs a natural extension of the Sinatra product line. Indeed, I believe Frank might give anyone who thought such a thing a nice knuckle sandwich.