USPTO Throws in the Towel in Dispute With Federal Judge

In an earlier post, we discussed at length the curious case of The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and Paul W. Bryant, Jr. v. Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises LLC et al.   Surprisingly, this dispute came to an abrupt end when the USPTO dropped its appeal to the 11th Circuit.  Although the case started out as a trademark registration dispute, it morphed into whether a federal judge can order the TTAB to vacate one of its precedential rulings based upon a settlement rather than a substantive review of the TTAB’s order.  The USPTO did not explain why it dropped its appeal, but a spokesman stated that it would continue to oppose such settlement-based vacaturs:  “Notwithstanding the withdrawal of its appeal, the USPTO maintains that it is improper for private parties to obtain vacatur of a TTAB decision unless a reviewing court has reviewed the TTAB’s decision on the merits and found it to be in error such that vacatur is required.”