In 1985, Judith and Terry Paul realized computers could be used to encourage children to read and track their progress. They developed a software system to do just that, and started Advantage Learning Systems (ALS) in the basement of their home. They began marketing their ACCELERATED READER software system to schools. Their software caught on. When ALS filed its federal trademark application in 1994, the application was refused based on a likelihood of confusion with the READING ACCELERATOR speed reading machine for reading-training programs sold since 1950 and covered by Registration No. 1,835,166. Attorney Sokol’s assistance was requested. Based on legal argument and supporting documents, he persuaded the Trademark Office to withdraw its refusal, and ALS (n/k/a Renaissance Learning, Inc.) was issued U.S. Registration No. 2,011,339 for its flagship ACCELERATED READER software system, which is now used by a large percentage of the elementary and middle schools throughout the United States. Renaissance Learning was sold in 2011 for a reported $440 million.
Identifying, Obtaining and Defending Famous Marks
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