TMEP 1207.01(b)(iv): Similarity in Sound – Phonetic Equivalents

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1207.01(b)(iv)    Similarity in Sound – Phonetic Equivalents

Similarity in sound is one factor in determining whether the marks are confusingly similar. See In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 476 F.2d 1357, 1361, 177 USPQ 563, 567 (C.C.P.A. 1973); In re White Swan, Ltd., 8 USPQ2d 1534, 1535 (TTAB 1988). For purposes of the §2(d) analysis, there is no “correct” pronunciation of a mark because it is impossible to predict how the public will pronounce a particular mark; therefore, “correct” pronunciation cannot be relied on to avoid a likelihood of confusion. See, e.g., In re Viterra Inc., 671 F.3d 1358, 1367, 101 USPQ2d 1905, 1912 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (upholding the Board’s affirmance of a Section 2(d) refusal to register XCEED for agricultural seed based on a likelihood of confusion with the registered mark X-SEED and design, SEED disclaimed, for identical goods); Centraz Indus. Inc. v. Spartan Chem. Co. Inc., 77 USPQ2d 1698, 1701 (TTAB 2006) (acknowledging that “there is no correct pronunciation of a trademark” and finding ISHINE (stylized) and ICE SHINE, both for floor finishing preparations, confusingly similar); In re Lamson Oil Co., 6 USPQ2d 1041, 1042 n.3 (TTAB 1987) (“[C]orrect pronunciation as desired by the applicant cannot be relied upon to avoid a likelihood of confusion.”); Kabushiki Kaisha Hattori Tokeiten v. Scuotto, 228 USPQ 461 (TTAB 1985) (holding SEYCOS and design for watches, and SEIKO for watches and clocks, likely to cause confusion); In re Great Lakes Canning, Inc., 227 USPQ 483 (TTAB 1985) (holding CAYNA (stylized) for soft drinks, and CANA for, inter alia, canned and frozen fruit and vegetable juices, likely to cause confusion); In re Energy Telecomms. & Elec. Ass’n, 222 USPQ 350 (TTAB 1983) (holding ENTELEC and design for association services relating to telecommunications and other electrical control systems for use in the energy related industries, and INTELECT for promoting, planning, and conducting expositions and exhibitions for the electrical industry, likely to cause confusion); In re Cresco Mfg. Co., 138 USPQ 401 (TTAB 1963) (holding CRESCO and design for leather jackets, and KRESSCO for hosiery, likely to cause confusion).