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Dr Dre loses trademark battle against Pennsylvania gynecologist Dr Drai

Dre's lawyers argued that the similarity between the names could cause confusion in the minds of Dr Dre’s fans
UPDATED FEB 17, 2020
Dr. Dre (Source: Getty Images)
Dr. Dre (Source: Getty Images)

Dr Dre might be a globally recognized brand but that doesn’t mean he can stop Dr Draion M Burch from going by the nickname “Dr Drai”, a federal trademarks court has ruled. Dr Drai is a  Pennsylvania-based gynecologist who has built a career as a medical practitioner and YouTuber. He has also written a book titled '20 things you may not know about the penis.'

According to the Independent, the rap superstar's case was built on the argument that since Dr Drai intended to use the moniker to sell audiobooks, MP3s and podcasts, the existence of both trademarks might cause confusion among listeners. He also accused the gynecologist of trying to trade on the goodwill and popularity enjoyed by the rapper.

Dr Dre at the premiere of 'The Defiant Ones.'
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

"Although, as we have said, each class of each application is essentially a separate application for which Opposer has the burden to prove likelihood of confusion, Opposer has not directly addressed which of these other goods or services in each class it claims to be related to his goods and services," Administrative Trademark Judge Cheryl Goodman wrote in her May 3 ruling. 

Dr Dre onstage at Coachella 2016. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

"Opposer submits that confusion is likely because the remaining goods and services 'are offered in non-medical settings to the general public (general interest TV, general-interest radio shows, charity functions, corporate events).' However, the mere fact that Applicant's goods and some of Applicant's services could be offered in non-medical settings is insufficient to warrant a finding that Opposer's and Applicant's goods and services are related."

Dr Dre at the premiere of 'Straight Outta Compton'.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Dr Dre, whose real name is Andre Romelle Young, is a world-famous rapper, producer and music mogul. He has had multiple hit songs like 'Nuthin' but a G Thang' and Natural Born Killaz. Dre's lawyers argued that the similarity between the names could cause confusion in the minds of Dr Dre’s fans and the customers of his line of ‘Beats’ headphones and speakers.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman sports 'Beats by Dre'.
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

"Applicant has admitted that DR. DRAI sounds identical to DR. DRE (Burch Tr. at 154:20-155:1), and, thus, a consumer hearing them would think they are the same. As to appearance, the names look remarkably similar," Dre’s attorneys wrote in a November 2017 court filing. The original case was filed in October 2015 on the Drai trademark filed in 2011. 

"Both of Applicant's Marks and DR. DRE begin with the terms doctor or the abbreviation for doctor, which are followed by a term that begins with the letters 'D' and 'R' and ends with vowels that make the same sound."

Drai’s lawyers, on the other hand, countered that there was no violation of trademark laws just because the two names sound similar.

Dr Dre onstage at Coachella 2016 with Ice Cube. 
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella) 

ArsTechnica reports that according to American trademark laws, a trademark can only be infringed by another in a related field that might cause confusion in the market and among consumers. It is highly unlikely that any of the famous musician’s listeners would confuse him for a doctor who gives out tips about genitalia on his YouTube channel.