Friday, August 12, 2005

TTAB Finds "LAWASH" Generic For Flat Bread, Cancels Registration

After this TTAB battle between two Michigan-based bakers, you might say that Respondent's registration was "toast." The Board granted Petitioner's motion for summary judgment and cancelled a registration for the mark LAWASH for "flat bread for consumption by the general public" on the ground of genericness. Paramount Baking Co. v. American Bakery Prods. Inc., Cancellation No. 92043525 (August 2, 2005) [not citable].

Petitioner Paramount asserted that "lawash" is the phonetic equivalent of "lavash" and that both terms are generic for flat bread. It relied on Internet search engine results for "lavash" and "lawash;" on a definition (from Webster's Third New International Dictionary) of "lavash" as a "large thin crisp unleavened wafer with a rough surface from air bubbles;" on an expert report stating that "lawash" and "lavash" are phonetic equivalents, the "w" and "v" being pronounced the same in Armenian; and on Applicant's website showing "mixed forms of use" (i.e. generic use and trademark use) of its alleged mark LAWASH.

Registrant American admitted that "lavash" is a "terminology used for a type of Armenian flat bread," but it contended that its proofs demonstrated that LAWASH is used and recognized as a trademark.

The Board, however, ruled that the evidence, without genuine dispute, showed that "the relevant public would view the term 'lavash' as generic for Armenian bread." Even without the expert testimony regarding pronunciation of the words, "the record shows that 'lawash' would also be perceived by the relevant public as the generic name for a particular type of flat bread." It noted that Registrant itself uses the term "lawash" "as a noun to identify a type of bread, and modified by a flavor." (E.g., "Sun-Dried Tomato Lawash" shown above).

In sum, the Board concluded that "'lawash' is an alternative spelling of 'lavash' and ... is equally generic for the goods."

TTABlog quiz: What two cities or towns in the United States have the largest Armenian communities? Hint: they are not in Michigan; one is on the left coast, one on the right. Answer here.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2005. All Rights Reserved.


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