Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Applicant Citizens Bank successfully invoked Knight Textile Corp. v. Jones Investment Co., 75 USPQ2d 1313 (TTAB 2005), in overcoming a Section 2(d) refusal to register the mark CITIZENS CIRCLE GOLD ACCOUNT [ACCOUNT disclaimed] for banking services. The Examining Attorney had deemed the mark confusingly similar to the registered mark GOLD ACCOUNT for banking services [ACCOUNT disclaimed]. In re Citizens Financial Group, Inc., Serial No. 78451347 (September 26, 2006) [not citable].

In Knight Textile [TTABlogged here], the applicant sought to register the mark NORTON MCNAUGHTON ESSENTIALS for various items of ladies sportswear. Knight Textile opposed, claiming likely confusion with its registered mark ESSENTIALS for women's clothing. The Board dismissed the opposition, finding that the word ESSENTIALS was highly suggestive in the clothing field, and that in the former mark it "contributes relatively less to the commercial impression than does the house mark NORTON MCNAUGHTON." In other words, the addition of the house mark was sufficient to distinguish the marks.

Here, the Board opined that the facts of the case "track the Knight Textile case in nearly every respect" and found that "the evidence applicant has presented here meets and even exceeds the evidentiary showing in Knight Textile." Citizens supplied "more direct evidence," i.e., evidence of actual use of GOLD ACCOUNT by twelve third-party banks. The Board found this website evidence to be "highly probative and strong" regarding the suggestiveness of GOLD ACCOUNT in the banking field.

As in Knight Textile, Applicant provided numerous third-party registrations, and the Board found that they corroborated the suggestive meaning of GOLD ACCOUNT. The Examining Attorney pointed out that many of the registrations did not include the word ACCOUNT, but the Board did not find that to be significant, since both Applicant and the registrant disclaimed ACCOUNT.

Applicant's specimen of use (shown above) showed CITIZENS as a house mark, and Applicant indicated that it uses CIRCLE "to identify its premiere relationship account products." Thus, according to the Board, CITIZENS CIRCLE functions like the house mark NAUGHTON MCNAUGHTON. "[P]urchasers would look to CITIZENS CIRCLE to distinguish applicant's mark from other GOLD and GOLD ACCOUNT marks, including the mark in the cited registration."

The Board therefore reversed the refusal to register.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2006.


Post a Comment

<< Home