Late last year, Douglas A. Lehocky on behalf of his Indiana business, Trademark King, Inc., filed 152 trademark applications with the USPTO. Normally, this would not be a noteworthy event. However, Mr. Lehocky attempted to register brand names (e.g., Dominos.com, KFC.com), sports related marks (e.g., NHL.Com, 2016 Ncaa Final Four Houston), celebrity names (e.g., Warren Buffet, The Rolling Stones), car company names (Infiniti.com, Fiat.com), sale related terms (e.g., Spring Sale, Thanksgiving Sale), and other commercial or descriptive terms.
When asked about his business, Mr. Lehocky reportedly explained that he buys and sells trademarks, and if he trademarks it first, then it doesn’t matter who owns the domain name. He also reported said that these are my marks and if you don’t think so, you don’t get trademark law.
Mr. Lehocky's trademark applications currently are being examined, and not surprisingly are being rejected for numerous substantive reasons such as falsely suggesting a connection with persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols; being merely descriptive; or failing to function as a trademark. For example, the "Selection Sunday" mark falsely implies a connection to the NCAA, the "EltonJohn.com" mark falsely implies a connection to the famous singer Elton John, and the "Cyber Sales" mark is merely descriptive and fails to function as an indicator of the source of goods or services. Additionally, at least one letter of protest has been filed against Mr. Lehocky's applications.
Mr. Lehocky's applications and responses demonstrate a deeply flawed understanding of trademark law. For example, in a letter to the USPTO Commissioner for Trademarks concerning his "EltonJohn.com" mark, Mr. Lehocky stated:
Elton John and/or Reginald Kenneth Dwight is a 67 year old living individual that has never trademarked his name due to his ignorance and/or laziness. According to the law, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Trademark King, Inc. shouldn't need permission from Elton John and/or Reginald Kenneth Dwight because Trademark King Inc. has the right to any trademark, trade name, and domain name that is not trademark.
As the legal bases for these trademark applications were unsound, it is extremely doubtful that any of Mr. Lehocky's applications will ever register as a trademark.