OPERATORS & REGULATORS: TGIS Party Bus, an Oklahoma City based operator recently received a letter from an attorney for OKC Party Bus, also known as Ragin’ Transit Authority. The letter asked TGIS to cease and desist using the name “Party Bus” as apparently OKC Party Bus has a trademark on the name “Party Bus” — at least in Oklahoma.
The letter to TGIS said in part:
“This law firm has been retained by (redacted), owner of OKC Party Bus, regarding your unauthorized use of the trademark ‘Party Bus’ in relation to certain business activities. Our client trademarked ‘Party Bus’ in 2001 for the state of Oklahoma. During this time, our client has invested a great deal of time and money in developing recognition and goodwill for this mark in the marketplace.
“Our client has become aware of your unauthorized use of the mark in regards to Internet advertising, meta tags for your website, signage on vehicles, as well as written and oral representations to the public, which includes but is not limited to social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. Such unauthorized use is an obvious infringement of our client's trademark and has previously caused confusion in the marketplace on more than one occasion.
“We are demanding that you immediately cease and desist all use of the mark ‘Party Bus’ in both written and oral form. If you continue to use the same after receiving this notice, then we will proceed with litigation to enjoin such use in addition to monetary damages, court costs, and attorney fees related to the same. Please contact our office within seven (7) days after receiving this letter to confirm that you have taken the appropriate steps to cease all such infringement.”
Ouch! Here are four guys — Joe, Ryan, Aaron and Jed — who started TGIS Party Bus with big dreams. By the way, TGIS is short for The Guys in Suits. That’s another blog for another day as I thought we all wore suits in this business, but apparently in Oklahoma, wearing a suit is a good marketing ploy.
It seems odd that anyone could take two words, “Party” and Bus,” and think by combining them that it would be okay to trademark. California-based Party Bus Tours, Inc. had the same bright idea and applied to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a national trademark on “Party Bus” in February 2006. The patent office even gave them a serial number for it before sending them a letter in August 2006 specifically telling them the word “bus” could not be included in a trademark. Party Bus Tours abandoned its request in February 2007.
Both TGIS Party Bus and OKC Party Bus operate old retired school buses in Oklahoma City. Party buses seem to be big business in Oklahoma as other “party bus” operators include The Party Bus Company, 405 Party Bus, Tulsa Party Bus, Absolute Party Bus, and Rock Star Party Bus. I sure hope those guys got the memo!
The rest of the nation will continue to call them party buses, but in Oklahoma only OKC Party Bus has the right to do that. I see court battles coming!
— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor
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