Months after Amazon’s recent media ploy, drones continue to capture news headlines. Hours ago, an AP story ran, suggesting that the Federal Aviation Administration’s present ban on commercial drones will result in global competitors flying right by the U.S., leaving us in their economic dust, as other countries around the globe embrace the commercial use of drones.
Last month there was even some discussion about whether we ought to call them drones or unmanned aerial vehicles – we think we know which one will survive the flight, don’t you?
By the way, are you able to identify the brand of drone shown in the photo above? Are you able to do so without employing a monotone voice to avoid boring your listeners? It’s not 200, by the way — in case you’re fixated on the only overt visible marking on the unmanned aircraft, as opposed to the external shape of it.
To the extent you think we drone on and on about non-traditional trademarks, brace yourself, here we go again. This one is pretty interesting though, it appears to be the only federal trademark registration covering the shape or configuration of a drone. Do you think it would survive litigation?
The source of the drone shown in the photo above is General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., and this particular drone is also known by the Predator word trademark. How do we know? Because the above photo is the specimen of use submitted to the USPTO in support of this federal registration for the configuration of the drone in connection with “unmanned air vehicles, namely, drones; unmanned air vehicles for surveillance, reconnaissance, and weapon delivery.”
This is how the mark is described in the registration, issued just over a month ago: “The mark consists of a three-dimensional configuration of an unmanned aerial vehicle which comprises a pronounced raised section of the upper and lower front fuselage followed by a slender fuselage. The dotted outline of the goods is intended to show the position of the mark and is not a part of the mark.”
If you’d like to see how General Atomics overcame the USPTO’s initial lack of distinctiveness refusal, see here. And, to see how it overcame the functionality refusal, see here and here.
Goodness gracious, everyone wants a piece of the drone action it appears, including some enterprising lawyers, see here (“Drone Lawyer”) and here (“Drone Practice Group” in Chicago Law Firm). And, no, although I could, today I’m not talking about the growing number of digital companies willing to file trademark applications for next to nothing. They know who they are. You know, the ones who give you just what you pay for?
How soon before the FAA allows commercial use of drones? How soon before we can order drone-delivered pizza? Will this avoid the need to tip the deliverer? If so, I’m in.