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February 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Battle Over Miss Scuba

from the February, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

At last, an American has been crowned Miss Scuba International. What, you didn't know there was such a title? Indeed, this beauty pageant, run by a Malaysian company named Scubastar (its owner, Robert Lo, also owns the Sipadan Mabul Resort and Mabul Water Bungalows) has been going since 2011. This is not just any beauty pageant, though. As it says on the Miss Scuba website ( www.missscuba.com ), "It is time that an event such as this is produced to celebrate, not only the inner beauty and courage of today's modern women, but also to simultaneously advocate worldwide marine conservation." The 2014 winner was Tabitha Lipkin, a Fox Sports reporter in San Diego who got her openwater certification four years ago. Lipkin, 24, beat out 13 contestants (the runners-up were from Thailand and Ireland) and also walked away with the Miss Congeniality subsidiary title.

But, there's trouble brewing. We received an e-mail titled "ALERT: Miss Scuba Trademark Infringement Notice" from Szilvia Gogh, the owner of Miss Scuba in Redondo Beach, CA. Her website is www.miss-scuba.com, an online dive travel resource for women. She said the e-mail to us was "to prevent any issues in the future in case Tabitha Lipkin contacts you."

Gogh attached a letter she was sending to promoters and sponsors of the Miss Scuba beauty pageant, stating, "I own the registered trademark to Miss Scuba in the United States. Any use of Miss Scuba (or variation of it) is trademark infringement . . . Tabitha Lipkin contacted me to inquire about my ownership of the trademark. I informed her I am very vigilant about protecting my intellectual property . . . The designation "Miss Scuba" is identical to the MISS SCUBA® registered trademark, and Scubastar's "beauty pageant" services are highly similar to our scuba-related travel and entertainment event services . . . your use of the designation "Miss Scuba" is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or to deceive consumers and the trade as to the . . . sponsorship or approval of Scubastar's services."

Gogh told us that, "After a long process, they officially withdrew their application from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They own trademark rights to Miss Scuba in several countries, but not in the USA. However, it did not stop Scubastar to try and go around me."

Nevertheless, Scubastar is promoting Miss Scuba International worldwide. It is having Lipkin do a year of ocean conservation campaigns, and as the Miss Scuba website says, "the pageant will also offer her a unique and comprehensive platform to launch her career and personal development." The next pageant will be in Malaysia on November 28.

Is there a contest for a Miss Football, a Miss Soccer, a Miss Downhill Skiing, a Miss Ping Pong? This just seems like another chance for a bathing suit contest. We're not sure how much Miss Scuba will do to save the oceans. But we'll certainly try not to get it mixed up with Miss Scuba USA.

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