We’re all used to seeing the big Caterpillar industrial machines featuring the word CAT. The CAT mark has been easily recognizable at any construction site throughout America for decades. Because of the brand’s popularity, Caterpillar expanded its use of the CAT mark to include apparel, headwear, bags, and other accessories. Caterpillar sells its clothing through its website and prominent retailers such as Amazon, JCPenney, and Sears. Its products have been featured on national television programs, newspaper and magazine articles, online publications, and fashion and lifestyle publications. However, CAT may have some competition.
Photo by Sindy Süßengut, licensed
A trademark is “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of the others.” In other words, the trademark indicates that the goods/services come from a specific source. A valid trademark is used on goods/services in commerce, and it is distinctive in that it identifies the source of the
On October 9, 2012, Puma obtained a federal registration for its mark, PROCAT, which covers clothing, footwear, and headgear. Registering PROCAT grants Puma the right to use the mark in all 50 states and provides public notice that Puma is the mark owner. Because registration proves ownership, if Puma wants to bring a trademark infringement case to federal court, it wouldn’t need further evidence to establish validity.
On October 6, 2017, Caterpillar, Inc. submitted to its petition to cancel Puma’s registration for the mark PROCAT for footwear and headbands. A cancellation petition can be filed at any time. It allows one party to challenge a trademark because a registered mark is likely to be confused with another party’s mark, the registrant could have obtained the mark fraudulently, the mark is generic, or the registrant is no longer using its mark.