A federal trademark judge has ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania-based gynecologist who goes by the name Dr. Drai—finding that use of this name does not violate the trademark of Dr. Dre, the famed rapper.
The case, which was filed in October 2015 to the United States Patent and Trademark Offices Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), claimed that Dr. Draion M. Burch's efforts to use the "Dr. Drai" moniker in a trademark were a "close approximation" of the stage name of Andre Young. Dre's lawyers wanted the Drai trademark, which was first filed in 2011, to be annulled.
"Applicant has admitted that DR. DRAI sounds identical to DR. DRE (Burch Tr. at 154:20-155:1), and, thus, a consumer hearing them would think they are the same. As to appearance, the names look remarkably similar," lawyers representing Dre wrote in a November 2017 court filing.
"Both of Applicant's Marks and DR. DRE begin with the terms doctor or the abbreviation for doctor, which are followed by a term that begins with the letters 'D' and 'R' and ends with vowels that make the same sound."
Burch's lawyers, however, countered with the fact that simply because the two names sound similar doesn't mean that Burch is stepping on Young's toes. Under American trademark law, for trademarks to be infringing they have to be at least in a related field and cause confusion in the marketplace.
Given that Dre has made a career with hits like "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang," while Drai has made a career practicing medicine and self-publishing tips about male and female genitalia, it's very unlikely that a consumer would confuse one for the other.
In the end, that's exactly what Administrative Trademark Judge Cheryl Goodman found.
"Although, as we have said, each class of each application is essentially a separate application for which Opposer has the burden to prove likelihood of confusion, Opposer has not directly addressed which of these other goods or services in each class it claims to be related to his goods and services," she wrote in a May 3 ruling.
"Opposer submits that confusion is likely because the remaining goods and services 'are offered in non-medical settings to the general public (general interest TV, general-interest radio shows, charity functions, corporate events).' However, the mere fact that Applicant's goods and some of Applicant's services could be offered in non-medical settings is insufficient to warrant a finding that Opposer's and Applicant's goods and services are related."
Still, we'd love to hear a Drai/Dre crossover album. We're slightly less excited about Dre's ability to practice gynecology, however.