Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Differences in Marks Inspire TTAB to Grant Summary Judgment in 2(d) Opposition

The Board granted Applicant's motion for summary judgment in a Section 2(d) opposition to registration of the mark T.I.P.S. – TEACHER INSPIRED PRACTICAL STUFF for printed course materials for elementary school education and for learning centers for elementary school students. The Board found the mark not likely to cause confusion with Opposer's mark INSPIRATION, registered for computer programs in the field of idea development and for computer education training. Inspiration Software, Inc. v. Teacher Inspired Practical Stuff, Inc., Opposition No. 91164083 (March 7, 2007) [not precedential].

The first du Pont factor, the dissimilarity of the marks, was dispositive. The Board considered all other relevant factors, including the relationship between the goods and the fame of opposer’s mark, in opposer's favor, but found "the dissimilarities in the marks so great as to avoid a likelihood of confusion."

As to appearance, the marks differ in the number of letters. The common root term INSPIR appears at the beginning of Opposer's mark but in the middle of Applicant's mark, and forms the root of different words: INSPIRED and INSPIRATION. And the punctuation in Applicant's acronym "lends a visual distinction to the term which is absent from opposer’s mark."

Moreover, the marks do not sound alike: at the beginning of the marks, the acronym T.I.P.S. sound nothing like the term INSPIRATION, and the alliteration between T.I.P.S. and TEACHER brings emphasis to the word TEACHER, which also sounds nothing like INSPIRATION. Even the common root INSPIR is pronounced differently in the two marks.

Nor do the marks share the same connotation. INSPIRATION, the whole of opposer's mark, means "mental or emotional stimulation to a high level." INSPIRED modifies TEACHER, PRACTICAL modifies STUFF, and the four word phrase "explains the beginning acronym T.I.P.S." "As a whole, Applicant's mark connotes tips dependent on stuff found practical by teachers."

Just like its decisions involving CRISTAL and CRYSTAL CREEK, FROOTEE ICE & elephant design and FRUIT LOOPS, PECAN SANDIES and PECAN SHORTEES, ONFOLIO and CARTAGIO, and APPROVAL PLUS and APPROVALFIRST, the Board found the subject marks so dissimilar as to preclude a likelihood of confusion.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2007.


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