By Guest Blogger Michael Mangelson
This post also appears on the Essential Nutrition Law Blog
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) recently issued a decision that highlights the importance of not assuming that goods that fall in different international trademark classes are unrelated in a likelihood of confusion analysis. In In re Spirits of the USA, LLC (not citable 4/21/10), the TTAB held held that energy drinks (class 32) and nutrition bars (classes 5 and 30) are too related to avoid a likelihood of consumer confusion when used in connection with the mark "Runner". The TTAB concluded that energy drinks and nutrition bars both provide energy and are commercially related products that are sold in the same channels of trade to the same classes of consumers, so confusion is likely.
How can you know if the relationship between the products you plan to list in your trademark application and those in an existing third party registration are likely too close? Do what examining attorneys at the USPTO do: search for third party registrations that list both your products and the products listed in the registration in question. If a number of these third party registrations exist, the examining attorney is likely to cite them in a refusal claiming that this evidence suggests that the listed products are of a type which may emanate from a single source and therefore are likely to cause confusion in the marketplace. (See In re Albert Trostel & Sons Co., 29 USPQ2d 1783, 1785-86 (TTAB 1993)).