TMEP 1207.01(b)(v): Similarity in Meaning

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1207.01(b)(v)    Similarity in Meaning

Similarity in meaning or connotation is another 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 Cynosure, Inc., 90 USPQ2d 1644, 1645-46 (TTAB 2009). The focus is on the recollection of the average purchaser who normally retains a general, rather than specific, impression of trademarks. E.g., In re Ass’n of the U.S. Army, 85 USPQ2d 1264, 1267-68 (TTAB 2007); In re Cont’l Graphics Corp., 52 USPQ2d 1374, 1375 (TTAB 1999); see also In re M. Serman & Co., Inc., 223 USPQ 52 (TTAB 1984) (holding CITY WOMAN for ladies’ blouses, and CITY GIRL for female clothing, likely to cause confusion); Gastown, Inc., of Del. v. Gas City, Ltd., 187 USPQ 760 (TTAB 1975) (holding GAS CITY (“GAS” disclaimed) for gasoline, and GASTOWN for gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and vehicle supply and maintenance services, likely to cause confusion); Watercare Corp. v. Midwesco-Enterprise, Inc., 171 USPQ 696 (TTAB 1971) (holding AQUA-CARE (stylized, with and without design) and WATERCARE (stylized), both for water-conditioning products, likely to cause confusion).

The meaning or connotation of a mark must be determined in relation to the named goods or services. Even marks that are identical in sound and/or appearance may create sufficiently different commercial impressions when applied to the respective parties’ goods or services so that there is no likelihood of confusion. See, e.g., In re Sears, Roebuck & Co., 2 USPQ2d 1312, 1314 (TTAB 1987) (holding CROSS-OVER for bras and CROSSOVER for ladies’ sportswear not likely to cause confusion, noting that the term "CROSS-OVER" was suggestive of the construction of applicant’s bras, whereas “CROSSOVER,” as applied to registrant’s goods, was “likely to be perceived by purchasers either as an entirely arbitrary designation, or as being suggestive of sportswear which “crosses over” the line between informal and more formal wear... or the line between two seasons”); In re British Bulldog, Ltd., 224 USPQ 854, 856 (TTAB 1984) (holding PLAYERS for men’s underwear and PLAYERS for shoes not likely to cause confusion, agreeing with applicant's argument that the term "PLAYERS" implies a fit, style, color, and durability suitable for outdoor activities when applied to shoes, but “'implies something else, primarily indoors in nature'” when applied to men’s underwear); In re Sydel Lingerie Co., 197 USPQ 629, 630 (TTAB 1977) (holding BOTTOMS UP for ladies’ and children’s underwear and BOTTOMS UP for men’s clothing not likely to cause confusion, noting that the wording connotes the drinking phrase “Drink Up” when applied to men’s clothing, but does not have this connotation when applied to ladies’ and children’s underwear).