Cavern City Tours Ltd. v. Hard Rock Cafe Int'l (USA), Inc., No. 6:12-cv-1410 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 31, 2014).
The Court held that the TTAB properly dismissed the the petition of plaintiff, who owns the mark THE CAVERN CLUB in the UK and other jurisdictions, to cancel Hard Rock Cafe's CAVERN CLUB mark in the USA. "The Cavern Club" was a venue where the Beatles performed hundreds of times early in their career.
First, the Court found that Hard Rock did not knowingly make false statements in their application for the CAVERN CLUB mark concerning the use of the mark by other people (like plaintiff), and rejected plaintiff's argument to adopt a "willful blindness" standard. The Court found that plaintiff failed to submit sufficient evidence to prove that Hard Rock was aware of Plaintiff's mark; further, even if Hard Rock did have knowledge of plaintiff's use of the mark, the Court found that Hard Rock had reasonable basis to believe that plaintiff did not have a superior right to use the mark in commerce.
Second, the Court found that Hard Rock's mark did not falsely suggest a connection with plaintiff in violation of section 2(a) of the Lanham Act. "The mere fact that Plaintiff's name has a word in common with the CAVERN CLUB does not establish that Plaintiff's identity or persona is the CAVERN CLUB." Similarly, plaintiff's lease and operation of a "new" Cavern Club venue did not establish that Plaintiff's persona or identity is the CAVERN CLUB. Moreover, Plaintiff did not establish that the CAVERN CLUB mark points uniquely and unmistakably to Plaintiff. To the contrary, the evidence links the CAVERN CLUB with the original venue, which was demolished in 1973; thus, it did not point uniquely to Plaintiff. Accordingly, Hard Rock was granted summary judgment dismissing the case.