A local T-shirt vendor who applied for the trademark on "Camden Yards" before the name was picked for the new stadium has passed initial federal trademark review -- an action that does not guarantee him the rights to the name but moves him a step closer.
Roy Becker of Arnold has passed the review of the trademark examiner and soon will appear in a federal publication as the owner of "Camden Yards" when it is used on clothing. Opponents will have 30 days to respond before the name becomes his, said Gil Weidenfeld, a spokesman for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
"He has passed all the hurdles in this office. He's at least at first base," Weidenfeld said.
Among the expected opponents is the Maryland Stadium Authority, which had a portion of its application put on hold pending the outcome of Becker's application. The stadium authority is suing Becker, claiming it owns the name by right of prior usage.
Becker filed his application and paid his $175 fee last July 1. The stadium authority filed a more extensive application -- covering everything from clothing to shopping malls -- on Oct. 8, five days after Oriole Park at Camden Yards was selected as the name of the ballpark built by the stadium authority.
At stake are the potentially rich profits from the sale of shirts, hats and other clothing imprinted with the stadium's name. If Becker is granted the rights, he conceivably could control the sale of goods bearing the name.
"It was nice to see that the Maryland Stadium Authority's arm does not reach into the federal trademark office. I think it's pretty significant," said Ruth Finch, Becker's attorney.
An attorney for the stadium authority disagreed.
"It is a non-final decision of the trademark examiner and it doesn't mean Mr. Becker has any rights in the mark Camden Yards," said Jerrold A. Thrope, with Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander.
In reviewing Becker's application, the trademark examiner determined that his mark was sufficiently different from other registered marks, that it was not in conflict with law, and that it met other criteria, Weidenfeld said.
However, other objections could be raised during the 30-day review period that were not considered by the examiner, he said.
"It's still an open ballgame. This could be a very expensive proposition for the state. They might find it cheaper to buy him out," he said.