Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"BBQ PIT STOP" Passes TTAB Mustard

Because of "significant differences" between the marks, the Board reversed a refusal to register THE BBQPITSTOP & Design for restaurant services, finding it not likely to cause confusion with the two registered marks shown on the right, likewise for restaurant services. In the cited registrations, the terms "Gourmet Barbecue Drive-Thru" and "Gourmet Barbecue," respectively, are disclaimed. In re Butts, Serial No. 76481350 (December 21, 2004) [not citable].
The Examining Attorney maintained that BARBECUE PIT-STOP "represents a significant element of the registrant's marks." Since the services are identical, he reasoned, confusion is likely.

The Board disagreed, noting in detail the differences in the designs and the wording in the marks. It agreed with Applicant Jonathan D. Butts that MAURICE'S "would likely be the term that prospective customers would use to distinguish registrant's restaurant services from those of others." And the Board pointed out that the term "Barbecue/BBQ" is a generic term for these restaurants and merits little weight in the likelihood-of-confusion analysis. Finally, the Board observed that, although "it is possible that some consumers may believe that there is an association between the marks," the Trademark Act concerns likelihood of confusion, not the mere possibility.

As a side note, the two registrations cited by the Examining Attorney are, according to the TESS database, owned by Piggy Park Enterprises Inc. of West Columbia, South Carolina. Maurice Bessinger, who appears to be the driving force behind that company, has been a somewhat controversial figure in recent years as a result of his legal battles (one of which reached the Supreme Court) and political stance. It remains to be seen whether the registrant will challenge the Butts application when and if published for opposition.


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