Dr. Dre has about as much in common with a real doctor as Snoop Dogg has with Snoopy, or Eminem has with the delicious chocolate candy. But that didn’t stop the famous rapper from trying to block a gynecologist from trademarking the name “Dr. Drai” as part of his medical practice. After a court battle, a judge has decided the real doctor is free to use his chosen moniker.
Dre v. Drai
Dr. Draion M. Burch, a gynecologist and media personality in Pennsylvania, filed a trademark for the name “Dr. Drai” in 2011. Lawyers for Andre Young (a.k.a. “Dr. Dre”) filed an action with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015 to attempt to annul the trademark. They claim that the Dr. Drai moniker infringes on Young’s because it’s offered in non-medical settings and is a “close approximation” of his stage name, Dr. Dre. They argue that the two sound identical and look similar, so that a consumer hearing them would think they are the same person.
Burch’s lawyers argued that no such confusion would arise because “Dr. Dre is not a medical doctor nor is he qualified to provide any type of medical services or sell products specifically in the medical or healthcare industry.” Burch also said he wasn’t trying to use Dr. Dre’s notoriety because the rapper’s “misogynistic speech” would be a “bad reflection” on him as a doctor.
Judge Sides with Drai
In order to show a trademark infringes on another, you have to show that the “marks” are confusingly similar to customers in the marketplace. There are many factors the court can consider, but a few relevant ones are:
- Is it likely a customer will buy a product, believing they’re buying someone else’s product?
- Is it likely that a customer will believe that a particular entity has sponsored or approved the item?
- Do the entities sell to the same kind of customers?
As the court explained in ruling for Dr. Drai, Young’s attorneys did not show which of the gynecologist’s goods or services related to the rapper’s own goods or services, so there is no trademark infringement in this case. So, while Dr. Dre can continue writing misogynistic songs about women under his immensely successful trademark name, Dr. Drai can continue helping to advance women’s health under his moniker.
If you’ve been accused of trademark infringement, or you need to enforce your own trademark rights, speak with an experienced intellectual property attorney who can help protect your interests.