San Diego - A judge in California Federal Court Tuesday refused the request by Spiraledge, Inc. to impose an injunction to bar SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. from use of the trademark "Aquatica" for its water parks nationwide.
U.S. District Court Judge William Q. Hayes ruled that Spiraledge had failed to show that SeaWorld's use of the name "Aquatica" for its chain of water parks had damaged the reputation of its "Aquatica"-branded swimsuits. The judge noted that Spiraledge had waited 13 months to file a lawsuit against the water park operator and failed to provide evidence of loss of sales based on any confusion.
Spiraledge filed its application for "Aquatica" on an intent-to-use basis in February 2005 for use in relation to swimwear, and began sales of Aquatica-branded swimsuits in 2008. The trademark was registered in December 2011 with registration number 4,077,618.
Busch Entertainment Corporation, which was acquired by Seaworld in 2009, filed its trademark application for "Aquatica" for amusement parks seven months after Spiraledge in September 2005. The application has been stalled ever since based on Spiraledge's prior filing. The Examining Attorney for this trademark suspended the registration in April, citing the pending civil action as well as a likelihood of confusion between this trademark and the one held by Spiraledge.
Busch has successfully obtained registration for a separate trademark for "Aquatica" and "Aquatica SeaWorld's Waterpark," both for use in drinking vessels. However, applications for "Aquatica Seaworld's Waterpark" for use in amusement park services as well as clothing have also been suspended pending trial.
Since its acquisition of Busch in 2009, Seaworld has begun to operate the three water parks in Chula Vista, California, Orlando, Florida and San Antonio, Texas, all named Aquatica.
Spiraledge has argued that SeaWorld's use of the term "Aquatica" violates its trademark protection. It argues that the suspension of the "Aquatica" trademark held by SeaWorld demonstrates that the two trademarks are too similar and would lead to confusion among consumers.
This victory for SeaWorld could be short-lived. The case will proceed in federal court, and SeaWorld is free to continue use of the name "Aquatica" for its water parks until a verdict is reached. However, the possibility remains that the court could ultimately decide to force SeaWorld to cease use of the trademark "Aquatica."