Bird Loechl McCants & Holliday Obtains Rare Precedential TTAB Ruling

June 27, 2024

ATLANTA, June 27, 2024—Bird Loechl McCants & Holliday (BLM&H) successfully defended motions to dismiss opposition actions before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. BLM&H intellectual property attorneys Troy G. Woollen and R. Scott Tewes obtained a rare precedential decision on behalf of client Mountain Gateway Order, Inc. (Mountain Gateway).

The TTAB acknowledged the novelty and importance of BLM&H’s arguments on behalf of Mountain Gateway by designating its ruling as a “precedent,” which is rarely done by the TTAB for such interlocutory rulings.

Mountain Gateway has senior rights to the marks MOUNTAIN GATEWAY and MOUNTAIN GATEWAY ACADEMY for educational services and clothing, and it has filed TTAB oppositions against the Virginia Community College Systems’ (VCCS) applications to register the mark MOUNTAIN GATEWAY COMMUNITY COLLEGE for similar goods and services. VCCS moved for summary judgment, arguing that it enjoys sovereign immunity as a state agency and is not subject to the TTAB’s jurisdiction. The TTAB denied VCCS’s motion, agreeing with BLM&H’s arguments and ruling that sovereign immunity does not apply to opposition proceedings.

The TTAB engages in a very thorough internal review before designating a ruling as a precedent, and a decision issued as a precedent serves as controlling legal authority for attorneys and TTAB judges determining later cases involving the same issue. Because of the thorough review given to such rulings, only a very small percentage of interlocutory decisions are designated as a precedent, and they are limited to issues of particular importance.

The ruling has been covered by Bloomberg Law ( Wolters Kluwer IP Law Daily ( and The TTABlog (

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