Finding CORVUS and CORVO Confusingly Similar for Wine, TTAB Sustains 2(d) Opposition
The TTAB often states that when the goods are identical, a lesser degree of similarity between the marks is necessary to support a finding of likelihood of confusion. That reasoning resulted in the Board sustaining this opposition to registration of the mark CORVUS & Design, shown immediately below, for "wines," on the ground of likely confusion with the registered mark CORVO for wine. Duca di Salaparuta S.p.A v. Corvus Cellars LLC, Opposition No. 91191848 (June 26, 2012) [not precedential].
Applicant Corvus Cellars lamely argued that the goods have a different target market due to the price points, type of wine represented and geography of the fruit (Applicant in Benton City, Washington; Opposer in Sicily), and different channels of advertising and sales. Of course, that was all irrelevant because the involved application and registration have no limitations on channels of trade, type of wine, etc. Since the goods are admittedly identical, the Board must presume that they travel in the same channels to the same classes of consumers.
As to conditions of sale, Applicant urged that its "$50 wines cannot be considered an impulse purchase," but there was no limitation in its application (or in the cited registration) as to price.
Opposer claimed that its mark is famous, but it failed to provide sales or advertising figures. Several media references were not enough to satisfy the high burden of proof for establishing fame. Nonetheless, the Board found it to be a "strong" mark, apparently based on its arbitrariness for wine: "corvo" means "raven" in Italian, and there was no evidence of third-party use that would suggest that the word has any meaning for wine.
As to the marks, the Board noted that since Opposer's mark is registered in standard character form, it is "entitled" to use it in any form. As to Applicant's mark, the Board not surprisingly found CORVUS to be the dominant element, since that is how customers will call for the product. The four letters that begin each mark will have a greater impact than the letters that end each mark. The Board therefore concluded that the similarities outweigh the differences.
Opposer maintained that "corvus" (the name of the Crow constellation) and corvo (raven) have similar connotations, and pointed out that the applied-for mark includes a depiction of a black bird. The Board, however, opined that most consumers would not know the meaning of either word, and would probably think the words have no meaning. If they did know the meaning of the terms, the bird design would certainly reinforce the similarity between the marks.
Finally, the Board pointed out that because wine is a widely available consumer item, the potential for confusion is high. Noting that consumers of wine may be unsophisticated, the Board found confusion likely, and it sustained the opposition.
TTABlog note: This was a loser from the git-go for the Applicant.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2012.