The Redneck Riviera

When you hear Redneck Riviera what comes to mind? The panhandle of Florida? Orange Beach, Alabama? Mississippi? Today’s post comes from a decision rendered by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. In 2012, Rich Marks, LLC applied for the trademark of “Redneck Riviera Fest” and “Redneck Riviera” for, among other things, entertainment and live music concerts.  (thanks to for bringing this to my attention, decision is here:

The trademark examining attorney denied the application primarily because the applicant intended for its goods and services, entertainment and concerts, to originate from the area known as the Redneck Riviera – a geographical location defined by the attorney that extends from the panhandle of Florida to southeastern Mississippi. Because, according the the attorney, the area is known for live music and entertainment, the mark is primarily geographically descriptive and/or geographically deceptively.

Rich Marks appealed this decision to the TTAB. Rich Marks first argued that Redneck Riviera isn’t a a “generally known geographic place”. Instead, the applicant argued, it is a pop-culture term “to describe a beautiful beach with lower-class inhabitants”.

Rich Marks next argues that Redneck Riviera isn’t a defined geographical area. Unlike “Carolina” (a state), “Old Dominion” (used to refer to Virginia), or “Nashville” (a city), Redneck Riviera does not have a boundary. Some publications refer to only the panhandle of Florida as the Redneck Riviera, while other publications claim it stretches from Florida to Mississippi. Because, Rich Marks argues, there is no definite region the mark is more like “Dixie” than the preceding terms; therefore “the primary significance of the mark is not a generally-known geographic place or location”.

The TTAB rejected Rich Marks’ arguments. The Board found that the primary significance of Redneck Riviera was to point to “beaches on the northwest Gulf Coast in Florida, Alabama, and part of Mississippi.” Although Rich Marks argued at the hearing that Redneck Riviera could refer to any beach to which “rednecks” have easy access to, such as Myrtle Beach, the Board found that Redneck Riviera points to primarily to the specific region. In short, the Board found the marks to be “primarily geographically descriptive”.

Have you ever been to the Redneck Riviera? Does it refer to only the Gulf Coast? Does it also refer to Myrtle and Daytona?




Football and the USPTO

As football season approaches, I was reminded of a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision of 2013 involving the University of Alabama, Bear Bryant’s son, and Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises. Houndstooth Mafia sought to have the mark shown below officially trademark. Alabama and Bear Bryant’s son opposed the petition on the basis that they extensively use the houndstooth pattern in their marks and particularly in promoting Bear Bryant’s legacy. The TTAB sided with the company, and found, among other things that Bear Bryant never used the houndstooth pattern as a trademark. Until now, last year was the last time I thought about “Houndstooth Mafia”. After running a search recently (and expecting to find houndstooth mafia merchandise), I was surprise to find that Alabama filed a suit in federal court in Birmingham to try to reverse the TTAB decision. Apparently the parties have settled the matter and Alabama now holds all rights to the Houndstooth Mafia mark. Here is an article about the settlement. I am sure there are many disappointed Alabama fans that were hoping to become part of the exclusive houndstooth mafia this football season. Are there any enterprising individuals out there willing to create the Orange Pants Mafia for Derek Dooley?