Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Courts Know Spanish Grammar, Too?

In the ongoing debate about whether judges are qualified to be expert grammarians as well, here is an interesting new case where the court basis part of its ruling on rules of Spanish grammar:

Borinquen Biscuit Corp. v. M.V. Trading Corp., _F3d._, 2006 WL 852365 at *5 (1st Cir., April 4, 2006)

Spanish grammatical rules caution against attributing a purely adjectival meaning to the term "RICA" when viewed in the context of Borinquen's logo: "Galletas RICA Sunland." A particular Spanish-language grammatical rule--the rule of concordance--requires strict relationships of gender and number between adjectives and nouns. See Gerald Erichsen, Spanish for Beginners: Noun-Adjective Agreement (2006),
http://spanish.about.com/cs/forbeginners/a/adjective_agree.htm.

Hence, Borinquen's mark would need to use the plural ("RICAS") if it were intended to serve as a grammatically correct descriptor of the noun "Galletas." We think it follows that the average Spanish-speaking consumer would be unlikely to view the non-concordant mark as a mere descriptor for the underlying product.