Verify, Claim, Respond,  and Protect

Plan For A Strong Trademark and a Strong Start

Delays in getting your trademark registered may hurt the start of your product introductions. About 65-70% of trademark applications are refused at least once so getting it done right the first time can shave off months.

Planning for a strong trademark as Not Just Patents defines it means verifying that the mark is inherently distinctive or has acquired distinctiveness, verifying that the mark is not used by others and is not a common term that others can use or approach closely, verifying that the application meets all the USPTO rules, verifying that the goods or services description is correct and broad or narrow depending on the circumstances and verifying that the specimen of use shows the intended use in commerce.

Why use a trademark? Trademark are very important to commerce: purchasing decisions are continually influenced by trademarks by distinguishing products from one another and indicating a level of authenticity and quality about products and services. The International Trademark Association calls a trademark the most efficient commercial tool ever devised. Protecting an earned legal right should be a very important goal for all businesses. Being able to associate a product or service with ®  to designate a federally registered trademark is a strong marketing tool and if that trademark is strong, it can become one of a businesses most important assets.


Verify

(This Word Has Lots of Different Meanings)

Usually when you see the word VERIFY with regards to a USPTO trademark it is either referring to some type of statement ( “The examining attorney required applicant to submit a substitute specimen supported by a verified statement “) or referring to the specimen submitted with an application (“An important function of specimens in a trademark application is, manifestly, to enable the PTO to verify the statements made in the application regarding trademark use. In this regard, the manner in which an applicant has employed the asserted mark, as evidenced by the specimens of record, must be carefully considered in determining whether the asserted mark has been used as a trademark with respect to the goods named in the application.” In re Bose Corp., 546 F.2d 893, 192 USPQ 213, 215 (CCPA 1976).)

One verified statement that is often referred to is the paragraph preceding an applicant’s signature that states: “The undersigned being warned that willful false statements and the like are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, under 18 U.S.C. 1001, and that such willful false statements and the like may jeopardize the validity of the application or document or any registration resulting therefrom, declares that all statements made on information and believe are believed to be true.” (Followed by the signature and name of the applicant and the date signed.)




Verifying that there are no direct hits at the USPTO database with other registered or pending trademarks is what some would call a verification or trademark search or clearance search or a type of likelihood of confusion avoidance or Right to Use search. Verifying beyond direct hits and beyond the USPTO to common law marks is a good practice to avoid  refusals, weak marks and lawsuits. Likelihood of confusion is one of the most common reasons for refusals (office actions) and the most common cause for oppositions and cancellations of trademarks. Not Just Patents looks at this type of verification or clearance under step 2 above, Right to Use. We believe that the Right to Use is not something that can be easily found from a quick search of the federal trademark database because there are more factors involved than direct hits on words. The legal analysis that a court would use is a good one to mimic and a court starts with the strength or weakness of the mark,  goes on to similarity or dissimilarity of the marks in their entireties as to appearance, sound, or meaning and continues with more factors. If you were on a jury in the Ninth Circuit, the judge would give you instructions similar to the following that go beyond looking at just identical appearance of marks:


Ninth Circuit Model Jury Instructions

INFRINGEMENT—LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION—FACTORS—SLEEKCRAFT TEST (15 U.S.C. §§ 1114(1) and 1125(a))

You must consider whether the defendant’s [person being sued] use of the trademark is likely to cause confusion about the source of the plaintiff’s  [person defending their rights by suing] or the defendant’s goods. I will suggest some factors you should consider in deciding this. The presence or absence of any particular factor [ ] should not necessarily resolve whether there was a likelihood of confusion, because you must consider all relevant evidence in determining this. As you consider the likelihood of confusion you should examine the following:

1. Strength or Weakness of the Plaintiff’s Mark. The more the consuming public recognizes the plaintiff’s trademark as an indication of origin of the plaintiff’s goods, the more likely it is that consumers would be confused about the source of the defendant’s goods if the defendant uses a similar mark.

2. Defendant’s Use of the Mark. If the defendant and plaintiff use their trademarks on the same, related, or complementary kinds of goods there may be a greater likelihood of confusion about the source of the goods than otherwise.

3. Similarity of Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s Marks. If the overall impression created by the plaintiff’s trademark in the marketplace is similar to that created by the defendant’s trademark in [appearance] [sound] [or] [meaning], there is a greater chance [that consumers are likely to be confused by defendant’s use of a mark] [of likelihood of confusion]. [Similarities in appearance, sound or meaning weigh more heavily than differences in finding the marks are similar].

4. Actual Confusion. If use by the defendant of the plaintiff’s trademark has led to instances of actual confusion, this strongly suggests a likelihood of confusion. However actual confusion is not required for a finding of likelihood of confusion. Even if actual confusion did not occur, the defendant’s use of the trademark may still be likely to cause confusion. As you consider whether the trademark used by the defendant creates for consumers a likelihood of confusion with the plaintiff’s trademark, you should weigh any instances of actual confusion against the opportunities for such confusion. If the instances of actual confusion have been relatively frequent, you may find that there has been substantial actual confusion. If, by contrast, there is a very large volume of sales, but only a few isolated instances of actual confusion you may find that there has not been substantial actual confusion.

5. Defendant’s Intent. Knowing use by defendant of the plaintiff’s trademark to identify similar goods may strongly show an intent to derive benefit from the reputation of the plaintiff’s mark, suggesting an intent to cause a likelihood of confusion. On the other hand, even in the absence of proof that the defendant acted knowingly, the use of plaintiff’s trademark to identify similar goods may indicate a likelihood of confusion.

6. Marketing/Advertising Channels. If the plaintiff’s and defendant’s [goods] [services] are likely to be sold in the same or similar stores or outlets, or advertised in similar media, this may increase the likelihood of confusion.

7. Purchaser’s Degree of Care. The more sophisticated the potential buyers of the goods or the more costly the goods, the more careful and discriminating the reasonably prudent purchaser exercising ordinary caution may be. They may be less likely to be confused by similarities in the plaintiff’s and defendant’s trademarks.

8. Product Line Expansion. When the parties’ products differ, you may consider how likely the plaintiff is to begin selling the products for which the defendant is using the plaintiff’s trademark. If there is a strong possibility of expanding into the other party’s market, there is a greater likelihood of confusion.

[9. Other Factors. Any other factors that bear on likelihood of confusion.]


(For the rest of the Circuit Courts factors, see LikelihoodofConfusionTrademark.com.)


The USPTO uses similar factors:


Federal Circuit-Likelihood of Confusion Test-(DuPont Factors)

(as reported in Champagne Louis Roederer, S.A. v. Delicato Vineyards, 148 F.3d 1373 (C.A.Fed., 1998))

The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals enunciated relevant factors for guidance in testing for the likelihood of confusion [the DuPont factors from E.I. DuPont DeNemours & Co., 476 F.2d 1357, 1361, 177 U.S.P.Q. 563, 567 (CCPA 1973)]. They are:

(1) The similarity or dissimilarity of the marks in their entireties as to appearance, sound, connotation and commercial impression.

(2) The similarity or dissimilarity and nature of the goods or services as described in an application or registration or in connection with which a prior mark is in use.

(3) The similarity or dissimilarity of established, likely-to-continue trade channels.

(4) The conditions under which and buyers to whom sales are made, i.e. "impulse" vs. careful, sophisticated purchasing.

(5) The fame of the prior mark (sales, advertising, length of use).

(6) The number and nature of similar marks in use on similar goods.

(7) The nature and extent of any actual confusion.

(8) The length of time during and conditions under which there has been concurrent use without evidence of actual confusion.         

(9) The variety of goods on which a mark is or is not used (house mark, "family" mark, product mark).

(10) The market interface between applicant and the owner of a prior mark:

(a) a mere "consent" to register or use.

(b) agreement provisions designed to preclude confusion, i.e. limitations on continued use of the marks by each party.

(c) assignment of mark, application, registration and good will of the related business.

(d) laches and estoppel attributable to owner of prior mark and indicative of lack of confusion.

(11) The extent to which applicant has a right to exclude others from use of its mark on its goods.

(12) The extent of potential confusion, i.e., whether de minimis or substantial.

(13) Any other established fact probative of the effect of use.


Verifying there is no likelihood of confusion is good but planning for a strong trademark involves more. See more on Verify, Apply, Respond and Protect. . .


Not Just Patents® Legal Services can help you Aim Higher® and Work Your Plan for a Strong Trademark. Call us at 1-651-500-7590.

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Call 1-651-500-7590 or email info@notjustpatents.com or ContactTrademark.com for Responses to Office Actions; File or Defend an Opposition or Cancellation; Patent or Trademark Searches and Applications; Send or Respond to Cease and Desist Letters.

For more information from Not Just Patents, see our other sites:      

Patents

Trademarks

Steps to a Patent    How to Patent An Invention

Patent Search Steps

Trademark e Search    Strong Trademark     Enforcing Trade Names

Common Law Trademarks  Trademark Goodwill  Abandoned Trademarks

Should I Get A Trademark or Patent?

Patentability Evaluation

Trademark Disclaimers   Trademark Dilution     Oppose or Cancel?

Examples of Disclaimers  Business Name Cease and Desist

35 U.S.C. 101 Inventions patentable.

Verify a Trademark  Be First To File   How to Trademark Search

35 U.S.C. 102 Conditions for patentability; novelty and loss of right to patent.

Using Slogans (Taglines), Model Numbers as Trademarks

Which format? When Should I  Use Standard Characters?

35 U.S.C. 103 Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

Trademark Statistics    UDRP Elements    Loss of Trademark Rights

How To Answer A Trademark Cease and Desist Letter

35 U.S.C. 282 Presumption of validity; defenses

Trademark Refusals    Does not Function as a Mark Refusals

37 CFR § 1.53 Application number, filing date, and completion of application

Acceptable Specimen       Supplemental Register  $199 Statement of Use

How To Show Acquired Distinctiveness Under 2(f)

Filing Requirements for Patent Applications

Trademark Attorney for Overcoming Office Actions

Functional Trademarks   How to Trademark     Surname Refusal

List of U.S. Patent Classifications

Grounds for Opposition & Cancellation     Cease and Desist Letter

How Do U.S. Patent Classifications Work?

Valid/Invalid Use of Trademarks     Trademark Searching

Patent Statistics     Sample Patent, Trademark & Copyright Inventory Forms

Examples and General Rules for Likelihood of Confusion

USPTO Search Method for Likelihood of Confusion

Examples of Refusals for Likelihood of Confusion  DuPont Factors

Proximate Function

Color as Trade Dress  3D Marks as Trade Dress

Invention Information-  What is the Invention?

Ornamental Refusal  Standard TTAB Protective Order

Patent Field of Search

Descriptive Trademarks Trademark2e.com  Likelihood of Confusion 2d

Patent search-New invention

Merely Descriptive Trademarks   Merely Descriptive Refusals

Patent Search-Non-Obvious

Register a Trademark-Step by Step   Trademark Fixer

Difference between Provisional and Nonprovisional Patent Application

Likelihood of confusion-Circuit Court tests

Pseudo Marks    How to Reply to Cease and Desist Letter

Converting Provisional to Nonprovisional Patent Application (or claiming benefit of)

Overcome Merely Descriptive Refusal   Overcome Likelihood Confusion

What Does ‘Use in Commerce’ Mean?    SCAM Letters

Shop Rights

Section 2(d) Refusals   ApplyToTrademark.com

Patent Pending see also Patent Marking

Typical Brand Name Refusals  What is a Family of Marks?

Patent Drawings

Trademark Steps Trademark Registration Answers TESS  

Trademark Searching Using TESS  Trademark Search Tips

TSDR Trademark Status and Document Retrieval

What is a Small or Micro Entity?

Published for Opposition see also Opposition Steps/Cancellation Steps

Counterclaims and Affirmative Defenses

How to Respond to Office Actions

What is a Compact Patent Prosecution?

Protecting Trademark Rights (Common Law)

Steps in a Trademark Opposition Process   How do I Know If Someone Has Filed for An Extension of Time to Oppose?

Changes To Implement the First Inventor To File Provisions of the America Invents Act

What is the Difference between Principal & Supplemental Register? What If Someone Files An Opposition Against My Trademark?

Patent steps

How to Respond Office Actions  DIY Overcoming Descriptive Refusals

PCT Patent Application information

Trademark Clearance Search   DIY Trademark Strategies

Provisional Patent Effect on Patentability

Samples of Responses to Office Actions

ID of Goods and Services see also Headings (list) of International Trademark Classes

Broad Patents

Geographically Descriptive or Deceptive

Making Amendments in Response to Office Actions

TTAB/TBMP Discovery Conferences & Stipulations

TBMP 113 Service of TTAB Documents  TBMP 309 Standing

Examples Office Action Responses More Examples

Trademark Incontestability  TTAB Manual (TBMP)

Trade Secrets

What are Dead or Abandoned Trademarks? Can I Use An Abandoned Trademark?  Can I Abandon a Trademark During An Opposition?

State & Federal Trade Secret Laws

Differences between TEAS and TEAS plus  Zombie Trademark

Chart of Patent vs. Trade Secret

What Does Published for Opposition Mean?

How to Keep A Trade Secret

Acquired Distinctiveness  2(f) or 2(f) in part Extension of Time to Oppose

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