TMEP 1213.10: Disclaimer in Relation to Likelihood of Confusion

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1213.10    Disclaimer in Relation to Likelihood of Confusion

A disclaimer does not remove the disclaimed matter from the mark. The mark must still be regarded as a whole, including the disclaimed matter, in evaluating similarity to other marks. See In re Nat'l Data Corp., 753 F.2d 1056, 1059, 224 USPQ 749, 751 (Fed. Cir. 1985); Specialty Brands, Inc. v. Coffee Bean Distribs., Inc., 748 F.2d 669, 672, 223 USPQ 1281, 1282 (Fed. Cir. 1984); Giant Food, Inc. v. Nation’s Foodservice, Inc., 710 F.2d 1565, 1570, 218 USPQ 390, 395 (Fed. Cir. 1983); Schwarzkopf v. John H. Breck, Inc., 340 F.2d 978, 144 USPQ 433 (C.C.P.A. 1965); In re MCI Commc'ns Corp., 21 USPQ2d 1534, 1538-39 (Comm’r Pats. 1991).

Typically, disclaimed matter will not be regarded as the dominant, or most significant, feature of a mark. However, since the Trademark Act permits an applicant to voluntarily disclaim registrable matter (see TMEP §1213.01(c)), disclaimed matter may be dominant or significant in some cases. As noted in MCI Commc'ns Corp., 21 USPQ2d at 1539, "Examining Attorneys will continue to consider the question of likelihood of confusion, under Section 2(d) of the statute, in relation to the marks as a whole, including any voluntarily disclaimed matter."