It appears the USPTO, once again, has extended the period for submitting comments on what originally was termed a study regarding “trademark bullying,” but was later characterized as a study on “aggressive trademark litigation tactics” — so, for those of you still interested in submitting comments, the new deadline is February 14, 2011.

Apparently, the

—Linda McCulloch, President, Design That Works Communications Inc.

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away… OK, seriously, back in 1999, I decided to make a quantum leap from successful freelance graphic designer to a REAL COMPANY. I began working with the Small Business Development Services advisors and formed a plan. I would incorporate

Who says that being a large corporate trademark owner is one of the prerequisites to earning the emotionally-charged, pejorative, and ill-defined label “trademark bully“?

Well, the original directive to the USPTO appears to assume that “trademark bullying” is a one-way street, disfavoring only large corporate trademark owners, and ignoring the possibility

Last October, as you may recall, I wrote this in a post entitled “The Mark of a Real Trademark Bully“:

[T]he U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is currently seeking information about various litigation tactics, including whether “you think trademark “bullies” are currently a problem for trademark owners, and if so, how

Seems as though any trademark owner who sends a cease and desist letter is bound to be called a trademark bully by someone. In fact, the USPTO has extended the period for comments by a month with a new deadline of February 7, 2011.

If you had started selling shirts, pants, and  under the trademark and brand KAKATOO, and you received a cease and desist letter from someone selling shoes under the trademark and brand DELICIOUS, would you not be crying foul and/or applying the ever-popular label “trademark bully”?

Obviously, I don’t believe the USPTO is a trademark bully, but asking the question, and discussing some recent likelihood of confusion refusals issued by Examining Attorneys at the USPTO, I believe, helps put in perspective the recent flurry of discussion and concern of trademark bullying. It also reinforces the power of federal trademark registrations.

This is how the Examining Attorney at the USPTO initially refused registration of KAKATOO for clothing, based on a prior registration for DELICIOUS for shoes:

Applicant’s mark KAKATOO is confusingly similar to the registered mark DELICIOUS because KAKATOO is the foreign equivalent of “delicious.”

Under the doctrine of foreign equivalents, a mark in a foreign language and a mark that is its English equivalent may be held to be confusingly similar. TMEP §1207.01(b)(vi); see, e.g., In re Thomas, 79 USPQ2d 1021, 1025 (TTAB 2006); In re Hub Distrib., Inc., 218 USPQ 284 (TTAB 1983). Therefore, marks comprised of foreign words are translated into English to determine similarity in meaning and connotation with English word marks. See Palm Bay Imps., Inc. v. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Maison Fondee en 1772,396 F.3d 1369, 1377, 73 USPQ2d 1689, 1696 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Equivalence in meaning and connotation can be sufficient to find such marks confusingly similar. See In re Thomas, 79 USPQ2d at 1025.

The support for this refusal is below the jump.


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