Glamping, or luxurious camping, is a relatively new concept that’s reinventing the way people experience the great outdoors. Businesses and outfitters have taken notice and are aggressively bringing new products and services into the booming industry. With that level of investment inevitably comes clashes between the words and logos some competitors use to brand themselves.
France-based Huttopia is one of the world’s more established companies in the glamping industry, providing services in the U.S. and Canada since 2004. Company executives were surprised and dismayed when an upstart glamping competitor attempted to register the trademark “Yurtopia" in 2019 to market its own glamping services.
Brian D. Wassom and R. Scott Keller, partners at the law firm Warner Norcross + Judd LLP , were able to successfully defend the distinctiveness of Huttopia’s mark and defeat Yurtopia’s efforts to register its mark in a recent trial before the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, by establishing that the Huttopia and Yurtopia marks were confusingly similar.
“The fact that Huttopia’s trademark was registered first was never in question,” Wassom said. “Yurtopia is the newcomer, and in such situations, the two key considerations in determining whether the junior mark is confusingly similar to the senior mark are the similarities between the trademarks themselves and the similarities between the goods or services provided.”
In their filing, Wassom and Keller highlighted not only the near identicality between the companies’ services but also the newcomer’s identical use of the “-topia” suffix in its mark. Further, the attorneys argued that the beginning portions of each name ─ “Hut” versus “Yurt” ─ are very similar in both the sound of the words and in their respective meanings. In fact, despite Yurtopia’s hypertechnical focus on the origins and specific characteristics of a yurt, Wassom and Keller successfully persuaded the appeal board that consumers are more likely to perceive a yurt as simply being one type of hut. This overlap in meaning between the two marks sealed the board’s decision to rule in Huttopia’s favor.
“We work very hard to understand our clients’ businesses and industries,” Keller said. “Winning this case required us to perceive the particular facts and circumstances of the case itself from the perspective of both the glamping industry and of its consumers. Ultimately, our client is pleased with the decision, which will allow it to move forward unfettered by the possible trademark confusion threatened by this competitor.”
Both Wassom and Keller are available for media interviews. Yurtopia has the right to appeal the board’s decision, which can be read in its entirety here.