Wenderoth Achieves Precedential Trademark Abandonment Decision In Specialty Car

June 21, 2017

In Executive Coach Builders, Inc. v. SPV Coach Company, Inc., Opposition No. 91212312 (TTAB June 21, 2017) Wenderoth successfully fended off an opposition in the specialty car industry by evidencing that Opposer Executive Coach, the largest limousine manufacturer in the world, had abandoned an unregistered historic funeral car brand 20 years prior. Proffering nine witnesses in five states, including the head of the specialty car program at General Motors, the Wenderoth trademark team amassed evidence demonstrating that the famed “ARMBRUSTER STAGEWAY” mark, allegedly acquired by Opposer in 1993, was jettisoned shortly post-presumed purchase. Wenderoth Client SPV Coach Company is a funeral car manufacturer born out of Southwest Professional Vehicles, the largest distributor of funeral limousines and hearses in the United States, which decided to revive the then ARMBRUSTER defunct brand in 2012. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) noted that the “clear, consistent testimony” proffered by Applicant as represented by Wenderoth was a “power counterweight to Opposer’s indefinite, internally inconsistent, and likewise self-serving testimony.” Given the paucity of precedential abandonment cases at the TTAB, the Executive Coach Builders decision provides important guidance on the types and levels of evidence necessary to prove abandonment of common law trademark rights at the USPTO. SPV Coach is now one of the largest manufacturers of funeral cars in the United States: its cars have served countless celebrations of life, including the funeral homecoming of the District of Columbia’s “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry.