Family Trademark Fight Over Earnhardt Name Gets Messy

Legendary driver's son is being challenged for using name in home collection
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2017 11:17 PM CDT
Family Trademark Fight Over Earnhardt Name Gets Messy
Teresa Earnhardt, right, widow of Dale Earnhardt, speaks as Dale Earnhardt's children, from left, Kerry Earnhardt, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Taylor Earnhard, look on during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, May 23, 2010.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A messy legal battle over how the Earnhardt family name is used just got more complicated. According to Courthouse News, Kerry Earnhardt, the eldest child of racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr., received a setback in court after his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt successfully challenged a trademark decision that allowed him to use the family name for his custom home design service. Partnering with Schumacher Homes, Kerry initially licensed the business as “Earnhardt Collection” in 2011, reports ESPN, and was eventually granted the right to use the name in 2016. But following an appeal by Teresa, who has owned the trademark to Dale Earnhardt’s name since his death in 2001 and uses it to market her own merchandise, the US Court of Appeals ruled that the use of the word “collection” must be clarified for Kerry to move forward.

The judge who issued the ruling said that the trademark board’s “opinion is certainly not a model of clarity” and believed the board “did not adequately explain whether 'collection' was merely descriptive of KEI's goods and services.” But Kerry’s attorney expressed optimism despite the ruling. In a statement, he wrote that they understood the “Federal Circuit's desire to have more clarity” and said they’re “confident” the board will determine the name is registrable. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has also been to court with Teresa over the use of the family name, has publicly come out in support of his half-brother. After the decision, he tweeted, “This s--- again? Damn I hate this for my brother. He's a good soul and my father would be proud of him and what he's accomplished.” Kerry has, like his brother and father, also raced professionally. (More Dale Earnhardt Jr. stories.)

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