Last week, The Saul Zaentz Company (also known as the media giant behind The Lord of the Ring and The Hobbit films) filed opposition papers against Frodoh, LLC, a College Park, MD company specializing in frozen donut holes and other desserts, according to their LinkedIn page. Frodo, LLC is attempting to register “FRODOH” with the USPTO in Class 30 for the following goods and services: frozen bakery desserts; frozen confections. Now, at first glance, you may be wondering how someone could possibly confused the well-known and beloved Lord of the Rings character of Frodo, with frozen donuts. It just wouldn’t happen. However, based on the current registrations for FRODO, there very well could be confusion on behalf of some consumers.
The Saul Zaentz Company owns numerous registrations for “FRODO” in various classes. The ones most relevant to this action are those registrations it also holds in Class 30 and other registrations in food/restaurant categories:
- FRODO: Class 30; food, namely cookies;
- FRODO’S PIZZA: Class 43; restaurant services; and
- FRODO: Class 21; decorative plates.
The Saul Zaentz Company is opposing on the basis that registration of such a trademark should be barred because:
- The Lord of the Rings character, Frodo, and the movies, have all existed prior in time to Frodo, LLC being formed or the filing of this application;
- There is a strong likelihood of confusion between the marks; and
- There is a possibility that the many registered Lord of the Rings trademarks could be diluted by tarnishment.
The Lord of the Rings movies are so well-known world-wide that it would be hard to find a person who does not know what the Lord of the Rings is and who Frodo is. Most people associate “Frodo” with the Lord of the Rings. Thus, it could be quite likely that someone going to a Frodoh restaurant and thinking that it is associated with The Lord of the Rings, especially when there are places like Frodo’s Pizzeria.
The Saul Zaentz Company, is basically arguing that everyone else had to get permission to use the FRODO mark, including Frodo’s Pizza in Greenville, SC, therefore Frodoh, LLC should also get permission to use the name Frodoh to describe their frozen baked goods. They note in their opposition papers how they have implemented an extensive trademark licensing program granting others the right to use the mark in a wide range of goods and services, including baked goods and restaurant services. This makes sense, considering, they hold registrations in multiple classes for things related to food or restaurant services. It seems to me, that Frodo, LLC falls into that category.
Frodoh, LLC has failed to obtain or even request permission for the use of their trademark. Thus, the Saul Zaentz Company further argues that the “[Frodoh, LLC] is using or intends to use its alleged mark in commerce with the willful intent to trade on Opposer’s reputation or to cause dilution of Opposer’s Marks through blurring or tarnishment.” Basically, Frodoh, LLC should be denied registration because they are hoping to benefit financially off of the fame and name of The Lord of the Rings.
It’ll be interesting to see how the TTAB decides this one.