TMEP 1212.04(b): “Same Mark”

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1212.04(b)    “Same Mark”

A proposed mark is the “same mark” as a previously registered mark for the purpose of 37 C.F.R. §2.41(a)(1) if it is the “legal equivalent” of such a mark. “A mark is the legal equivalent of another if it creates the same, continuing commercial impression such that the consumer would consider them both the same mark.” In re Dial-A-Mattress Operating Corp., 240 F.3d 1341, 1347, 57 USPQ2d 1807, 1812 (Fed. Cir. 2001); see also In re Brouwerij Bosteels, 96 USPQ2d 1414, 1423 (TTAB 2010) (finding three-dimensional product packaging trade dress mark is not the legal equivalent of a two-dimensional design logo); In re Nielsen Bus. Media, Inc., 93 USPQ2d 1545, 1547-48 (TTAB 2010) (finding THE BOLLYWOOD REPORTER is not the legal equivalent of the registered marks THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, THEHOLLYWOODREPORTER.COM, and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER STUDIO BLU-BOOK); In re Binion, 93 USPQ2d 1531, 1539 (TTAB 2009) (finding BINION and BINION’S are not the legal equivalents of the registered marks JACK BINION and JACK BINION’S); Bausch & Lomb Inc. v. Leupold & Stevens Inc., 6 USPQ2d 1475, 1477 (TTAB 1988) (“The words GOLDEN RING, while they are used to describe the device, are by no means identical to or substantially identical to the gold ring device trademark.”); In re Best Prods. Co., 231 USPQ 988, 989 n.6 (TTAB 1986) (“[W]e infer in the instant case that the differences between the marks BEST & Des. and BEST JEWELRY & Des., and between the identifications of services in their respective registrations, were deemed to be immaterial differences.”); In re Loew’s Theatres, Inc., 223 USPQ 513, 514 n.5 (TTAB 1984), aff’d, 769 F.2d 764, 226 USPQ 865 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (“We do not, however, agree with the Examining Attorney that a minor difference in the marks (i.e., here, merely that the mark of the existing registration is in plural form) is a proper basis for excluding any consideration of this evidence under the rule.”); In re Flex-O-Glass, Inc., 194 USPQ 203, 205-06 (TTAB 1977) (“[P]ersons exposed to applicant’s registered mark... would, upon encountering [applicant’s yellow rectangle and red circle design]..., be likely to accept it as the same mark or as an inconsequential modification or modernization thereof.... [A]pplicant may ‘tack on’ to its use of the mark in question, the use of the registered mark... and therefore may properly rely upon its registration in support of its claim of distinctiveness herein.”).

See, e.g., Van Dyne-Crotty, Inc. v. Wear-Guard Corp., 926 F.2d 1156, 1159, 17 USPQ2d 1866, 1868 (Fed. Cir. 1991) regarding the concept of “tacking” with reference to prior use of a legally equivalent mark.

When an applicant is claiming §2(f) as to only a portion of its mark, then the previously registered mark must be the legal equivalent of the relevant portion for which the applicant is claiming acquired distinctiveness. See TMEP §1212.02(f) regarding claims of acquired distinctiveness as to a portion of a mark.