Likelihood of Confusion

News & Analysis as of

Circuit Split Remains: SCOTUS Passes on Defining Nominative Fair Use

In a recent disappointment to those advocating clarity for the muddy waters of determining permissible use of third-party trademarks under the nominative fair use doctrine, the Justices of the United States Supreme Court...more

“Pardon Me, PORTON,” says PATRON, “But We Heard You”

Pisco is a light-colored brandy traditionally produced in portions of Peru and Chile.  One brand that offers this product in the United States is PISCO PORTÓN (the later word meaning “gate” in Spanish)....more

Making Tequila and Pisco Shots Safe From Confusion

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) cancelled the registration for the mark PORTÓN last week, finding it to be confusingly similar to the senior mark PATRÓN. Patrón...more

Trademark Trial and Appeal Board: Non-Spanish Speakers Would Confuse PATRON and PORTON Trademarks

In a non-precedential opinion, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled two US trademark registrations for the mark PORTON, finding it to be confusingly similar to the mark PATRON. Patron Spirits International AG...more

Suggestive Versus Descriptive Marks

Addressing the validity of, and likelihood of confusion between, two data-driven analytic software companies’ “Collective”-formative trademarks, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed with the district...more

The Vegas Golden Knights – Trademark Denied

Another update for you on the new Las Vegas NHL team. In my previous posts on this interesting saga (here and here), I discussed the team’s unique marketing and trademark strategy leading up to the announcement last month of...more

When Imitation Goes Beyond Flattery

In a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Missouri today, Energizer Brands complained about Spectrum Brands’ “imitation” of its packaging, raising claims of trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, unfair...more

NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights’ Trademark Application Refused Due To Likelihood of Confusion with the College of Saint Rose Golden...

In June 2016, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced that Las Vegas would be awarded an NHL franchise team, the first major professional sports team in the city and the first new expansion team for the NHL in over fifteen...more

Hear Hard Candy Roar – Sues Over CoverGirl Katy Perry Makeup Line

Hard Candy, LLC (“Hard Candy”) sued The Procter & Gamble Company (“P&G”), parent company to CoverGirl in the federal district court of Florida for 1) federal trademark infringement, 2) federal unfair competition, 3) common...more

Former Member of The Commodores Sued For Using Band’s Name to Promote Solo Career

A Florida federal court enjoined Thomas McClary, an original member of famed Motown band the Commodores, from branding himself as “COMMODORES’ Founder Thomas McClary” in his booking advertisements for solo gigs. McClary left...more

Can Internet Comments and Search Results Prove Trademark Infringement?

You’ve selected a unique trademark, marketed and sold products under the brand, and continue to build up a base of satisfied customers. But then a new company emerges with a very similar trademark, piggybacking on your...more

More Than Zero: Under the Lanham Act, One Interstate Sale Qualifies as Actual Use of a Trademark in Commerce

In 2009, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected shoe manufacturer Adidas’s application to trademark the phrase “ADIZERO,” due to a likelihood of confusion with an existing mark: “ADD A ZERO,” a clothing trademark held...more

Consumers Are Unlikely to Confuse Yelp with a Local Property Management Company Using the Same Tagline in Ads, Court Rules

In a ruling that neatly illustrates some of the challenges a company is likely to face when trying to enforce trademark rights in an advertising tagline, a federal judge in the Northern District of California recently denied...more

Considerations When Creating Your Brand

I. Conducting a Clearance Search - A clearance search is an investigation to determine whether a new trademark1 can be used without interfering with an existing, senior trademark. No matter how unique you think your...more

Use of Judicial Notice in Likelihood of Confusion Analysis Held Improper

Addressing the likelihood of confusion for competing marks used in connection with financial services, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit largely reversed the district court’s finding that the defendant’s use of...more

Appeal of Final Refusal Maintaining that Human Jewelry is “Closely Related” to Pet Accessories

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. asked the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to reconsider its rejection of an application for the mark GEORGE in connection with watches, clocks, jewelry, and imitation jewelry in Class 14 (U.S....more

“Snap” decision leads to litigation — Snap Interactive files suit against Snap Inc.

A recent litigation brought against the parent company of the popular app Snapchat is a good reminder of the importance of clearing a mark and the pitfalls young companies face as they begin to mature. Snapchat is, of...more

Likelihood of “Initial Interest” Confusion Powers The University of Houston to Preliminary Injunction Win in Law School Name...

On June 22, 2016, the South Texas College of Law announced that it was changing its name to Houston College of Law. This seems like a natural choice, as the school is based in Houston and is a stand-alone institution not...more

Sonic v. Supersonic Coffee v. AKA Coffee: Bullied to a better brand?

A specialty coffee roastery in San Francisco, Supersonic Coffee, has decided to rebrand to the name AKA Coffee, as reported yesterday. The impetus for the rebrand was an opposition at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board...more

Supplemental Registrations – Actually Worth a Hill of (Coffee) Beans

The potential defensive value of a registration on the Supplemental Register is highlighted in a recent opinion of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, In re Morinaga Nyugyo Kabushiki Kaisha. While we often think of...more

To Search or Not to Search

Inditex – the parent company of fashion giant Zara – sued a small New York-based brand over the use of the mark Zara Terez (“ZT”). Zara Terez was launched in 2008 by friends Zara Terez Tisch and Amanda Schabes. The complaint...more

Trademark satire is no joke to the City of Atlanta

Check out this City of Atlanta Facebook page. The funny thing is that it’s not run by the City of Atlanta. Although the posts are titled “City of Atlanta” and use the City’s official seal, the page consists of satirical...more

The Trademark Board Cancels the Trademark Registration for HOPNOTIC Beer

In another disappointment to the beer brewing industry, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled a trademark registration for the mark HOPNOTIC for beer on the basis that it is confusingly similar to liquor brand...more

Supplemental Register Gets Nod from Trademark Trial & Appeal Board

On September 8, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board lent support to the strength of a registration on the Supplemental Register, indicating that it is worthwhile to pursue federal registration, even if that means your mark...more

A Common Cue Creates No Confusion

Cue, Inc. sells high-end home audio equipment (e.g., table radios and speakers). In 2007, it applied to register the trademark CUE ACOUSTICS, and in late 2009 the USPTO allowed its application. Cue’s CUE ACOUSTICS mark was...more

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