Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Checkmate Delivered in Chess Hall of Fame Fight

LAS VEGAS (CN) - World Chess Museum is the winner of a court battle over the ownership of the Chess Hall of Fame trademark after a federal judge crowned it the rightful holder by default.

The St. Louis-based museum does business as the World Chess Hall of Fame. It was well-positioned for a victory after a magistrate judge found in July that the World Chess Federation missed an attorney-replacement deadline.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jones ruled Sept. 24 that the museum is the owner of "all right, title and interest in" the World Chess Hall of Fame and the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame and Museum trademarks.

The World Chess Museum's predecessor in interest, the U.S. Chess Trust, filed the original trademark application in 1999 and was awarded the World Chess Hall of Fame mark in March 2002, according to court records.

"Despite bare assertions of prior rights, and demonstrably false representations, [the World Chess Federation] has failed to provide any evidence showing trademark rights" and has likely caused confusion among consumers by its use of the mark, Jones wrote.

The judge noted that the federation has still not retained new counsel and has not responded to an amended complaint, making default judgment appropriate.

Jones permanently enjoined the Las Vegas-based World Chess Federation from using the hall of fame marks and ordered it to destroy any infringing materials. The World Chess Museum did not seek monetary damages and were not awarded any.

Founder Stan Vaughan created the World Chess Federation to organize chess tournaments and offer chess lessons. In 2011, he announced the opening of the World Chess Federation Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.

The World Chess Museum sued Vaughan and his organization in February 2013 to protect its hall of fame trademark after learning of their infringement. The museum "exhibits one of the world's premier collections of chess and chess-related artifacts, memorabilia, and artwork," according to court filings.

Vaughan, a grandmaster, won nine major tournaments from 1996 to 2012, and set a world record in 1982 by winning 112 consecutive blindfold chess matches, according to his biography on the World Chess Federation site. He is also a cryptanalyst credited with solving the infamous Zodiac killer's 340-character cipher, the website says.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.