Ronda Rousey made a surprise appearance at a WWE event to
kickoff her new foray into pro wrestling. ESPN reported that the former UFC champion will now be a full-time
Pic via Wikimedia Commons
Rousey’s appearance included her theme music, Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”
walkout song and a shirt which included her “Rowdy” nickname.
On the same night that Rousey stepped into the WWE ring, the company started to sell Rousey t-shirts with “Rowdy Ronda Rousey” on the front in the distinctive Roddy Piper font. While Rousey and the WWE likely received clearance to use the similar logo of Piper
from his estate (Piper passed away in 2015), the company and former UFC fighter may have to deal with a pre-existing registered trademark when it comes to obtaining a federal protection for the mark “Rowdy Ronda Rousey.”
Rousey filed for the “Rowdy Ronda Rousey” trademark on July 7, 2015 for a variety of goods and services including action
figures, exercise and athletic equipment, bags, footwear, coats, yoga pants and more. The marks were published for
opposition on November 10, 2015. All of these marks were filed under a Section 1(b) designation meaning that she
intends to use the mark at a certain point in the future. Under Section 1(a), the individual or entity registering the mark is currently using it. She has applied for and received 4 extensions since filing for the mark. You are allowed 5 under the
The estate of Rowdy Roddy Piper filed for the mark, “Rowdy Roddy Piper,” on June
26, 2017. The goods and services they seek to protect include clothing, action figures, memorabilia and “entertainment
services.” An Office Action on October 25, 2016 was issued
by the USPTO examiner stating, among the issues, a likelihood of confusion with
a prior registered mark, “Rowdy Rodder,” for the use of the
mark in clothing (International Class 25). The mark owners goods and services include shirts and was first used in
commerce in December 2015 and filed with the USPTO the same month.
At this point in the Rousey application, her attorneys must submit evidence that they are using the proposed mark in commerce (e.g.,
Rousey’s shirts). Once this happens, the examiner will determine whether the application can go forward in the process
toward obtaining registration with the USPTO.
The interesting issue will be whether an examiner might determine an Office Action is necessary due to the fact it is similar to the
Rowdy Rodder mark that has been in use since December 2015. Notably, Rousey’s attorneys filed for the “Rowdy Ronda Rousey” mark in July 2015, while the “Rowdy Rodder” mark was used in Deceember 2015. Hence, Rousey’s mark
would take precedence but she has yet to use it prior to the “Rowdy Rodder” mark.
Trademarks can be a confusing area of law as filing for a mark is important to maintain the validity of the brand. There are a lot of marks out there that utilize the same name, but are in different industries and the USPTO allows the
registrations of these marks since its unlikely to be confused.
In the Rousey application, she has applied for the mark with the intent on selling t-shirts, a space that is already used by mark holder, “Rowdy Rodder.” It is not known if the USPTOexaminer will halt the Rousey application from going forward. Even if it does not, the “Rowdy Rodder” mark holder might bring a claim.
Despite these hurdles, I would anticipate that Rousey will still use the “Rowdy Ronda Rousey” character as she steps into the WWE ring at
Wrestlemania. Its just a matter of how the parties will resolve the issue via USPTO Office Action or further legal wrangling.