Friday, December 08, 2006

CAFC Affirms TTAB "GOLD SEAL" Laches Decision

In a nonprecedential ruling, Teledyne Technologies, Inc. v. Western Skyways, Inc., Appeals Nos. 2006-1366 and 2006-1367 (December 6, 2006), the CAFC affirmed the TTAB's denial of Teledyne's petition for cancellation of a registration for the mark GOLD SEAL for aircraft engines. The TTAB had applied the doctrine of laches, based on Teledyne's 44-month delay in seeking cancellation. [TTAB decision here; TTABlogged here].

The appellate court noted that "whether likelihood of confusion exists is a question of law based on underlying factual determinations." It ruled that the Board's factual findings were supported by substantial evidence, and that a likelihood of confusion was established, "especially since any doubt is resolved in favor of the prior user."

As to laches, "this is an equitable defense and the Board's ruling is reversible only for abuse of discretion." Teledyne argued that the TTAB "abused its discretion in applying laches because Western Skyways adopted GOLD SEAL in bad faith." And it asserted that the Board erred in failing to find "inevitable confusion."

The court was not moved. It saw no error in the Board's rejection of the "inevitable confusion" argument, and the record was devoid of evidence that Western Skyways acted in bad faith. Therefore, the Board "did not abuse its discretion or otherwise err in applying laches."

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2006.


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