1207.01(d)(iv) Collateral Attack on Registration Improper in Ex Parte Proceeding
Section 7(b) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1057(b), provides that a certificate of registration on the Principal Register shall be prima facie evidence of the validity of the registration, of the registrant’s ownership of the mark, and of the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark in commerce in connection with the goods or services specified in the certificate. During ex parte prosecution, an applicant will not be heard on matters that constitute a collateral attack on the cited registration (e.g., a registrant’s nonuse of the mark). See In re Dixie Rests., Inc., 105 F.3d 1405, 1408, 41 USPQ2d 1531, 1534-35 (Fed. Cir. 1997); In re Fiesta Palms, LLC, 85 USPQ2d 1360, 1363 (TTAB 2007); In re Peebles Inc. 23 USPQ2d 1795, 1797 n.5 (TTAB 1992); In re Pollio Dairy Prods. Corp., 8 USPQ2d 2012, 2014-15 (TTAB 1988).
It is also inappropriate for the applicant in an ex parte proceeding to place the burden of showing a likelihood of confusion on the owner of the cited registration. In re Majestic Distilling Co., 315 F.3d 1311, 1318, 65 USPQ2d 1201, 1206 (Fed. Cir. 2003) ("'It is the duty of the PTO and this court to determine whether there is a likelihood of confusion between two marks.... [I]t is no answer for the applicant to ask that the application be passed to publication to see whether the owner of the cited mark will oppose the registration.'" (quoting Dixie Rests., 105 F.3d at 1408, 41 USPQ2d at 1535)).