Intellectual Property Attorney

Cecil the Lion (Beanie Baby) “Dead in his Tracks?”

With great fanfare, Beanie Baby® toy manufacturer Ty Inc. has announced the creation of a “Cecil the Lion” Beanie Baby® – purportedly to raise funds for animal conservation efforts.

Only one problem – Ty Inc. was not the first entity to come up with the idea of trying to “capitalize” on the unfortunate story of a well-known lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe who was killed by an American dentist in an allegedly illegal hunt – setting off an international (indeed, lion-sized) uproar.

In the case of Ty Inc., the company’s purported goal is altruistic, but that does not mean it will win out over another entity, i-Star entertainment of Great Neck, New York, which appears to be seeking to “capitalize” on the situation as well (for what purpose is, as of this writing, unknown).

The problem for Ty Inc. is that it filed its “intent-to-use” trademark applications to register “Cecil the Lion” (SN 86710412) and “Cecil” (SN 86709963) for plush toys on July 30th. Unfortunately for Ty Inc., i-Star entertainment also filed trademark applications on the same day – but before Ty Inc. i-Star entertainment filed its applications on July 30th for “Cecil the Lion” (SN 86709523) and also “King Cecil” (SN 86709594) for plush toys.

Under U.S. trademark law, the first entity to file for trademark registration protection prevails. Which means that unless Ty Inc. is able to work something out with i-Star entertainment, Ty Inc.’s plans for a “Cecil the Lion” Beanie Baby® toy are – regrettably – “dead in their tracks.”

To make things even more interesting, Exclusive Adventures, Inc. of Santa Monica California filed an application to register “Cecil the Lion” on July 30th
after the applications filed by Ty Inc. and i-Star entertainment, also for plush toys, –
but in addition for “charitable fundraising services for conserving wildlife” with a claim of first use of July 28th, which arguably gives Exclusive Adventures, Inc. certain rights that are superior to either Ty Inc. or i-Star entertainment!

For the record, yet another party also tried to “capitalize” on the situation, Privage Limited of New York, NY. However, Privage Limited’s application for “Cecil the Lion” (SN 86710856) was not filed until July 31st. For all intents and purposes, Privage Limited is not in the hunt.

We will continue to monitor the situation and report.

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