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Explorer’s Descendants in Trademark Quarrel

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CN) - More than 100 years after he became the first man to sail solo around the world, two of Capt. Joshua Slocum's descendants in upstate New York filed a federal trademark action against two other Slocums.

Born in Nova Scotia, Slocum accomplished the 46,000 mile journey from 1895 to 1898 in a 36-foot sloop named the Spray, and wrote about it in the book, "Sailing Alone Around the World."

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Michael Slocum and his daughter, Tracy Arakelian, say they began taking steps to market clothes and other related merchandise based on their ancestor in 2000, under a general partnership called "Joshua Slocum Apparel."

With apparel in mind, the Loudonville, N.Y.-based duo filed an intent-to use application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2004 for the mark "Captain Joshua Slocum."

"This mark consisted of standard characters without claim to any particular font, style, size or color," the 11-page federal complaint states.

Rochester-based Ralph Slocum and Joshua Aymar Slocum, who operate "Joshua Slocum Enterprises," are named as defendants.

The complaint says Ralph Slocum applied in 2012 to register a "Joshua Slocum" mark. Joshua Aymar Slocum was allegedly added to the application later.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a certificate of registration to the defendants on Nov. 4, 2014, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs claim infringement on their trademarks, "Capt. Joshua Slocum," "Joshua Slocum" and "Spray 360," the complaint states.

"Defendants' Joshua Slocum signature mark is identical to the dominant element of plaintiffs' marks, the name Joshua Slocum, which plaintiffs had used in advertisements, and placed on merchandise that was marketed and sold as early as 2004, making plaintiffs the first and senior user of the Joshua Slocum mark," the complaint states.

Seeking an injunction that bars the defendants from using any "Slocum" mark on apparel and any other merchandise, the plaintiffs also want the court to destroy all goods bearing the defendants' allegedly infringing marks.

The plaintiffs are represented by Neal Slifkin with Harris Beach, in Pittsford.

Slocum set sail from Boston and returned to Newport, R.I., three years later, to complete his circumnavigation, according to his book.

The only timepiece he carried with him on the voyage was a tin clock he purchased for a dollar.

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