–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Wham-O, Inc. has had its share of hits over the years, achieving “household name” status (my opinion) with an impressive list of trademarked (I am not afraid to use it as a verb) products:

  • FRISBEE for “toy flying saucers for toss games”
  • HULA HOOP for “plastic toy hoops”
  • SUPER BALL for “sport and toy balls”
  • SLIP ‘N SLIDE for a “flexible plastic water slide”
  • SILLY STRING for “plastic stream material or composition and toy and novelty pressurized dispenser of same”
  • HACKEY SACK for “footbags used in a kicking game”

(As an aside, its SUPERELASTICBUBBLEPLASTIC trademark for “viscous toy balloon making composition suitable for dispensing from a sqeeze tube” has sadly gone by the wayside.)

Beginning in July of 2008, however, Wham-O has found itself playing defense to four petitions to cancel its registered trademark rights in some registrations for the first four of these marks, all brought by Manley Toys Ltd., a company based in Kowloon, Hong Kong.  Earlier this year, Wham-O countered this move by filing a lawsuit in federal court seeking the court’s declaration that its trademarks are not generic.  In legal jargon, this is known as a “declaratory judgment” action.  Last month, the court dismissed Wham-O’s request, and Wham-O is now appealing that dismissal.

The feud between Wham-O and Manley goes back several years, and good histories have been reported in the San Francisco Chronicle here and the ABA Journal here.  We are keeping tabs on it to monitor the fate of these registered trademarks.

For additional background on the importance of good generic names to use with trademarks, see Steve’s Rollerblade post.  Our previous posts relating to genericide can be found here.