Dr. Dre, the rapper, producer, creator of Beats headphones, and discoverer of famous rap artists such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent, was recently in the news for a trademark dispute over his name.

In 2015, a doctor by the name of Draion Burch filed trademark applications for “Dr. Drai” and “Dr. Drai OBGYN and Media Personality.” Dr. Drai is a Pennsylvania based gynecologist who, according to his website, “is a nationally-recognized author, speaker, consultant, and go-to media expert on women’s health and transgender health issues.” He also has a YouTube channel where he gives medical tips and “provides on-point advice on off-the-wall questions.”

When Dr. Dre’s camp found out about Burch’s applications, they filed an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Burch.

In the opposition, Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, claimed his name was “sufficiently related” to the same avenues in which Burch was going to use his name; audio books, seminars, media, etc.

While individuals may be able trademark their name, problems can arise when the new trademark is similar enough to an existing trademark that it would lead to a likelihood of consumer confusion. In this case, Dr. Dre felt Dr. Burch’s applied-for services relate to the entertainment industry, where he is a highly recognizable figure, and the similarity of the names would cause confusion among consumers who would draw a false connection between the two “doctors.”

Burch stated he was “hurt that someone was attacking me in my position as being a doctor… I actually went to medical school.”

Considering what the two “doctors” do it is hard to argue there could be any confusion between the two. The TTAB agreed and stated, “[t]he issue is not whether purchasers would confuse the goods or services but whether there is a likelihood of confusion as to the source of the goods or services.” The TTAB found “no evidence of record” that led them to believe “consumers would likely believe the parties’ goods and services would emanate from the same source.”

The TTAB dismissed the opposition, so, for now, Dr. Dre will have to forget about Drai.

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak with one of our patent attorneys please contact us.