by Williametta Garnett
There’s no secret that the words King James are unmistakably associated with four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion LeBron James. But should James be able have exclusivity over the phrase?
On November 18th, James, initiated opposition proceeding with the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), seeking to preclude the registration of a trademark for 'King James' by a third party. The applicant is this matter is Carnival, the cruise ship operator with a market cap of more than US$22 billion whose chairman, Micky Arison, is the owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat. James played for the Heat from 2010 to 2014.
In its opposition, LBJ Trademarks highlighted that the media and basketball fans consistently refer to the now Los Angeles Lakers star as King James and that James’ Twitter account handle is @KingJames. despite numerous trademark applications filed by LBJ Trademarks with the USPTO it has never even applied to register the mark 'King James'.
It is somewhat surprising that LBJ Trademarks never initiated any effort to register the 'King James' mark prior to filing its notice of opposition against the registration of Carnival’s application, since it is so closely connected to the NBA superstar. Ultimately, Carnival voluntarily withdrew its trademark application for 'King James' with prejudice (meaning that it will not seek to restore the application in the future) a mere eight days after LBJ Trademarks initiated its action.