Beloved ‘The Jetsons’ Dog Astro is Heading To Trademark Court
It’s been nearly 60 years since The Jetsons hit the airwaves, but thanks to a recent trademark application from Astro Biosciences, the cartoon family is back in the news. On Nov. 17, Hanna-Barbera Productions filed a Trademark Opposition against an application for the trademark “Astro Dog.” As Astro would say, “Ruh-roh, Reorge!”
Oppositions filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) often focus on a likelihood of confusion. Upon first glance, it would be difficult to see how a company with “biosciences” in the name could possibly create confusion with a cartoon character. When diving deeper into the case, though, the issues cited by Hanna-Barbera are clear.
Astro Biosciences vs Hanna-Barbera Productions
Those who have never heard of Astro Biosciences will likely envision an institute performing important research into life sciences. This could leave them wondering how any issue could arise between the company and a cartoon dog. One need only look at the former’s other trademark applications, however, to see the issue:
- Smart Treats for Smart Dogs
- You Can Teach Old Dogs New Tricks
- Smart Chews for a Smart Dog
- Canine Cognitive Smart Chews
So while Astro Biosciences may sound like a scientific corporation at first, its main focus is actually dog treats. This makes Hanna-Barbera’s claims of likelihood of confusion and trademark dilution seem far more plausible. Even if confusion were to not occur, it’s easy to see why Hanna-Barbera wants to defend “Astro Dog.”
Arguments in the Case
There really is no debate over whether a trademark linked to The Jetsons would be famous. This is easy to see by the fact that the show’s theme song landed on the Top 10 Billboard charts more than 20 years after its initial run. What stands out about Hanna-Barbera’s opposition is that they never mention any sales of dog treats on their end.
What they do point out, however, is that products sold by Astro Biosciences are complementary to their own. The entertainment company provided several examples of pet toys, costumes and other products previously sold by them or licensed to others. Hanna-Barbera’s claim is that the applicant is engaged in willful trademark infringement due to the popularity of the Astro Dog trademark.
In addition to claims of potential confusion, Hanna-Barbera says the registration of “Astro Dog” would dilute their famous distinctive trademark. The opposition claims that Hanna-Barbera’s capacity to promote products could be hindered, and they could even be blamed for defects in unrelated goods. They may have to submit evidence showing this potential, but they no doubt have a strong motivation to move forward.
What Comes Next?
The first step after any opposition filing with the TTAB is for the respondent to file an answer. In the notice submitted by the USPTO, Astro Biosciences is given until Dec. 27 to file an answer. If the involved parties don’t reach an agreement, the case will proceed with discovery, motions and ultimately trial briefs and a decision.
The issues between Hanna-Barbera and Astro Biosciences are clear, but how far the parties are willing to take the case will dictate how long the beloved cartoon pup stays in the news cycle. Being six decades removed from Astro chasing cats on conveyor belts, though, it probably won’t hurt the pooch to get back in the limelight.