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Lyons v. American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
859 F.3d 1023 (2017)


Lyons (defendant) was an equine veterinarian who joined with other veterinarians to begin forming a new veterinary specialist organization that would provide education for board certification in the specialty of veterinary sports medicine. Lyons and the others created an organizing committee and for a number of years worked to create the specialist organization according to the requirements of the national accrediting association. In 2004, Lyons was dismissed from the organizing committee. The remaining members eventually gained accreditation for the specialist organization, the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (the college) (plaintiff), in 2010. The college was incorporated as a nonprofit and soon was educating and certifying veterinarians through over a dozen residency programs it had created, as well as providing other continuing education services. Lyons, however, had independently filed to have the college’s name registered as a trademark shortly after her dismissal, and had been granted registration for the mark on the supplemental register in 2006. Lyons never offered any educational services, had any students, or employed any teachers. In 2011, the college petitioned to cancel Lyons’s registration. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the board) ruled that the registration was void ab initio because Lyons had never been the owner of the mark. Lyons appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lourie, J.)

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