Last Best Beef, LLC v. Dudas

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(E.D. Va. 2006), 2006 WL 2852764

Last Best Beef, LLC (“LBB”) filed a motion for summary judgment after the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) canceled two of its trademark registrations, suspended four of its trademark applications, and suspended two other trademark applications that the state of Montana had opposed for THE LAST BEST PLACE mark. The court granted LBB’s motion for summary judgment and reinstated the suspended and/or canceled trademark applications and registrations. The USPTO suspended and/or canceled LBB’s federal trademark applications and registrations in response to the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006 (“The Act”). United States Senator Conrad Burns, from Montana, had sponsored Section 206 of The Act which prohibited registration of the mark THE LAST BEST PLACE because he wanted that mark to be reserved for Montana, even though Section 206 does not explicitly grant the mark to Montana.
The court held that Section 206 “improperly circumvents the Lanham Act and, therefore, is invalid legislation.” Section 206 fails to mention, modify, or suspend any provisions in the Lanham Act as it pertained to the mark THE LAST BEST PLACE. Section 206 provides the USPTO with no guidance as to existing and pending trademarks and trademark applications, but does not give the USPTO the authority to suspend or cancel applications and registrations, so in doing so the USPTO made an error in judgment.
The court noted that there has never been any exception carved out of the Lanham Act for a single trademark as was done in this case. The court also said that it did not want to poke holes in the Lanham Act like they have been poked in the Tax Code. The court also did not want to rob LBB of the goodwill it had established by two registered trademarks that had been procured over ten years ago.

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