Hip Hop icon Dr Dre has lost a battle against a gynaecologist over the registration of the trade mark “Dr Drai”.
Pennsylvania based Dr Draion M Burch is a successful gynaecologist and obstetrician as well as author and public speaker on women’s health issues. He is known by his colleagues and friend as Dr Drai, and in an attempt to exploit his fame, applied to trade mark the name.
The rapper and producer Dr Dre (real name Andre Young) filed an opposition to that trade mark in 2015 stating concerns that the name would cause confusion amongst the public who may associate products bearing the Dr Drai name.
In the ruling, the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office dismissed the case, stating that the fact the names were similar did not indicate that the public would mistakenly buy Dr Drai’s products, given the nature of the different markets and products attached to the goods bearing the marks.
The grounds for refusal to register a trade mark in the USA are numerous, but include a prior use or registration by another of the mark or of a mark that is confusingly similar, as well as falsely suggesting a connection with, or tending to bring another or an institution into contempt or disrepute.
The court noted the different products and services both parties would be exploiting with their marks. Dr Drai had filed the trade mark for commercial use associated with paid for medical and motivational speeches, as well as his own hard print and audio books, including “20 Things You May Not Know About the Penis”.
It also recognised that a ticket to one of Dr Drai’s live talks would cost roughly $5,000 and therefore a potential attendee would employ a higher degree of diligence in ensuring the legitimacy of the speaker.
The case concluded that there was no actual intent by Dr Drai to trade on the goodwill generated by Dr Dre’s name and reputation.
Although the Dr Dre mark had established sufficient fame and reputation, the musician had failed to show that members of the public would make a connection between the mark of the hip hop artist and that used in the medical field, an idea neatly surmised by the applicant who recognised Dr Dre as “not a medical doctor nor… qualified to provide any type of medical services or sell products specifically in the medical or healthcare industry”.
Dr Drai went as far as to distance himself from Dr Dre’s goodwill stating “I cannot be associated with anyone that has any kind of misogynistic speech because it’s a bad reflection on me as a doctor.”
Following the ruling the medical professional stated “I was just appalled how someone would think that I wanted to be them and I actually went to medical school.”