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Dre v Drai US trade mark battle is over

In 2015 Dr Draion M Burch sought to trademark the name “Dr Drai” for use in his business selling audio books and seminars on gynaecology. Distinguished rapper, entrepreneur and music mogul Dr Dre objected, on the basis that the proposed Dr Drai material would share some platforms with his music (think iTunes, Spotify, Audible), and the similarity of the names would be bound to cause confusion.

Burch argued against this, stating (perhaps obviously) that Dr Dre was not a medical doctor, and he is not “qualified to provide any type of medical services”. He also argued that any perceived association with Dr Dre would reflect badly on him as a doctor: especially in light of Dr Dre’s lyrics which he called “misogynistic and homophobic”.

Burch is the author of several books, including “The Making of a Medical Mogul” and “20 Things You May Not Know About the Penis”. He is a highly respected obstetrician, and describes himself as one of “America’s top health experts” on his Dr Drai website. He is also one of a number of medical doctors to have successfully commercialised their practices away from treatment rooms: he regularly appears on daytime television dispelling myths about sex and sexual health.

The US Trademark Office has found against Dr Dre, and offered a myriad of reasons why confusion would not be an issue.

It’s first reason was that there was no actual evidence that consumers would be misled in to buying Dr Drai products or services thinking they were in some way associated with Dr Dre. While this would have been sufficient, further reasons were offered: possibly in an attempt to head-off any appeal.

The Office stated that as Mr Burch’s fees for speaking were around $5,000, it was reasonable to expect that the consumer would exercise a “higher degree of care” than a casual purchaser of a lower valued item or service.

Dr Burch is now free to continue to use his Dr Drai moniker. Dr Dre may yet appeal, but given the reasoning provided in the decision it may be more sensible to accept the decision and move on. Dre will probably be able to take comfort in his status as the fifth richest musician in the world with a net worth of around $740m.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.