Maurice v. United States Patent and Trademark Office
ORDER DENYING 9 Motion for TRO Signed by Judge Xavier Rodriguez. (mgr)
Case 5:21-cv-00681-XR Document 14 Filed 11/17/21 Page 1 of 4
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SAN ANTONIO DIVISION
-vsUNITED STATES PATENT AND
On this date, the Court considered Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. ECF
Nos. 9, 10. After careful review, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion.
This case arises from Defendant United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO)
suspension of Plaintiff Andre Maurice’s trademark application of the term FEYONCE. Maurice
operates FEYONCE, a registered business in Texas. In November 2015, Maurice attempted to
register FEYONCE as a trademark, but the application was suspended because the USPTO found
the term was confusingly similar to the registered trademark BEYONCÉ, owned by popstar
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. ECF No. 1 at 2. Maurice alleges the suspension violates his civil rights
and property rights. Maurice contends that the USPTO’s denial due to likelihood of confusion is
not valid because in a prior lawsuit between Maurice and Knowles-Carter, the Southern District
of New York denied summary judgment as to whether FEYONCE is confusingly similar to
BEYONCÉ and the two parties eventually settled. Id. at 5–6. In light of this resolution, Maurice
asserts that the USPTO’s continuing denial of the trademark constitutes discrimination in
violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986; 15 U.S.C. §§ 45, 1125; and 25 C.F.R §
11.448(b). Id. at 8–17. Maurice further alleges that the USPTO has accepted other trademark
Case 5:21-cv-00681-XR Document 14 Filed 11/17/21 Page 2 of 4
applications for the term FEYONCE BAE Z, and that there is currently a pending application for
the term FEYONCE. Id. at 6; ECF No. 10 at 6. In his motion for a preliminary injunction,
Maurice requests the Court to enjoin USPTO from 1) considering any current or future
trademark applications for the term FEYONCE and 2) stop the sale and use on products bearing
the FEYONCE mark by the online retailer Etsy.1 ECF No. 9 at 1.
To be entitled to a preliminary injunction, the movant must establish four elements: “(1) a
substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a substantial threat that the movant will suffer
irreparable injury if the injunction is denied; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs any damage
that the injunction might cause the defendant; and (4) that the injunction will not disserve the
public interest.” Hoover v. Morales, 164 F.3d 221, 224 (5th Cir. 1998). When assessing the
likelihood of success on the merits, courts look to standards provided by the substantive law.
Janvey v. Alguire, 647 F.3d 585, 596 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Roho, Inc. v. Marquis, 902 F.2d 356,
358 (5th Cir. 1990)).
First, Maurice Maurice brings numerous claims for discrimination by USPTO under Title
42 of the US Code. However, suits against the federal government brought under civil rights
statutes are barred by sovereign immunity. Affiliated Professional Home Health Care Agency v.
Shalala, 164 F.3d 282, 286 (5th Cir. 1999). Maurice has not pled a valid waiver of sovereign
immunity, and the USPTO has not waived its sovereign immunity. Thus, Maurice cannot
demonstrate likelihood of success with respect to his civil rights claims.
Maurice additionally asserts a claim for violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125, which provides a
cause of action for trademark infringement. Section 1125(a)(1) provides that “[a]ny person who .
. . uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, . . . which . . . is likely to cause
Etsy is not currently a party to this lawsuit.
Case 5:21-cv-00681-XR Document 14 Filed 11/17/21 Page 3 of 4
confusion, or to cause mistake . . . as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods,
services, or commercial activities by another person . . . shall be liable in a civil action by any
person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.” 15 U.S.C. §
1125(a)(1)(A). In order to prevail on such a claim, “the plaintiff must allege a protectible right
in the mark and alleged infringement through a likelihood of confusion.” Trans Tool, LLC v.
Faulkner, No. SA-19-CV-1304, 2021 WL 796161, at *3 (W.D. Tex. March 2, 2021). Maurice’s
Complaint does not allege that the USPTO has used the proposed mark, nor does it allege any
such use caused confusion. Maurice fails to demonstrate likelihood of success as to his Section
Maurice further asserts a claim under 15 U.S.C. § 45. However, this statute does not
provide a cause of action for private litigants. Fulton v. Hecht, 580 F.2d 1243, 1248 n.2 (5th Cir.
1978). Rather, it empowers the FTC to file actions for unfair or deceptive acts. Thus, Plaintiff is
unlikely to succeed on such a claim.
Maurice’s final claim is for a violation of 25 C.F.R. § 11.448(b). This regulation
criminalizes the abuse of office that occurs on Native American land. See id.; 25 C.F.R. § 11.104
(“The regulations in this part continue to apply to each area in Indian Country listed in
accordance with § 11.100.”). This regulation is inapplicable to Maurice’s claims, and therefore
Maurice cannot demonstrate likelihood of success on such a claim.
Case 5:21-cv-00681-XR Document 14 Filed 11/17/21 Page 4 of 4
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction (ECF No. 9) is
It is so ORDERED.
SIGNED this 17th day of November, 2021.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?