Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Test Your TTAB Judge-Ability: Are VOLVO and LOVOL Confusable for Vehicles?

Volvo opposed registration of the mark LOVOL, in standard character and design forms, for agricultural machinery, construction equipment, automobiles, and other vehicles, claiming likelihood of confusion with its mark VOLVO for overlapping and legally identical goods. Volvo proved that is mark enjoys a "very high degree of renown" in the relevant field, but the Board agreed with applicant that the involved goods are purchased with "significant care." How do you think this came out? Volvo Trademark Holding AB v. Hebei Aulion Heavy Industries Co., Ltd., Opposition No. 91178281 et al. (February 7, 2013) [not precedential].

The Board noted that Applicant's mark is a palindrome, which gives it a "visual symmetry" that is absent from the VOLVO mark: "the beginning and ending L's of applicant's mark balance each other as do the symmetrically placed O's." As to sound, both marks share the letter string VOL, creating the possibility of some phonetic similarity. But there was no objective evidence that the pronunciations of the two marks would be similar.

As to meaning, LOVOL has none. VOLVO means "I am rolling" in Latin, but since Latin is a dead language, who cares? [or qui cogitat?] The Board observed that it is questionable whether relevant customers would be aware of this meaning, and if they were, that would further distinguish the marks. The Board noted also that "VOLV" is suggestive of the English words "revolve" and "evolve".

In sum, the Board found it unlikely that customers of "normal perceptual abilities" would mistake one mark for the other. Nor would they perceive a relationship or other connection between the marks or the parties. Although in light of the renown of the VOLVO mark, the LOVOL mark might call the other to mind, nothing in the record suggested a likelihood of confusion under Section 2(d).

And so the Board dismissed the opposition.

Read comments and post your comments here.

TTABlog comment: Volvo dropped its dilution claim. But since the test for similarity of marks under a dilution theory is the same as that for likelihood of confusion, the dilution claim was probably a loser too.

TTABlog note: My favorite palindrome is: "A man, a plan, a canal - Panama." What's yours?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2013.


At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Jessica said...

"Able was I, ere I saw Elba," of course.
And thank heavens the TTAB got this one right. "Lovol" conveys "low volume" to me and absolutely nothing about Volvo - and I say that as a satisfied Volvo owner.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is enormously rare for me to say this about non-WYHA cases, but the Board finally got one right. At first blush, I would have guessed that the Board would have found "likelihood of confusion" in an another possibility of confusion case.

As for a palindrome, "Evil did I dwell, lewd I did live."

At 10:29 AM, Blogger acw said...

which is the only palindromically named language I know of.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger Bob Cumbow said...

Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?


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