TTAB Test: Are "M WEBB" and "MAPPIN & WEBB" Confusable for Wallets and Purses?
M Webb, LLC applied to register the mark M WEBB for "handbags, purses, wallets, tote bags" and for various items of women's apparel, identifying "M Webb" as "Marissa Webb," whose consent was of record. Mappin & Webb opposed, claiming a likelihood of confusion with its previously used mark MAPPIN & WEBB for "jewelry" and for various Class 18 goods, including purses and wallets. The Board found the goods to be identical in part, and otherwise closely related. But what about the marks? How do you think this WEBB case came out, Charlotte? Mappin & Webb Limited v. M Webb, LLC, Opposition No. 91213413 (October 23, 2015) [not precedential].
Judge Bergsman provided a detailed opinion in this ACR proceeding, a good portion being devoted to an analysis of the similarity of the marks. The Board found opposer's mark MAPPIN & WEBB to be inherently distinctive, but having "little, if any, marketplace strength in the United States."
Of course, when the goods are in part identical, a lesser degree of similarity between the marks is needed to support a finding of likely confusion. Opposer pointed out that both marks begin wit the letter "M" and applicant's mark is encompassed by opposer's mark. The Board noted that in the fashion industry, designers are often referred to by their surnames alone.
Applicant argued that its mark denotes a single individual, and therefore its mark has a different meaning and commercial impression than opposer's mark. There was no evidence, however, that Marissa Webb is actually referred to as "M Webb." On the other hand, there was no evidence that opposer's mark is ever shortened to WEBB, M WEBB or M & WEB. "[T]he evidence regarding abbreviations for similarly structured trademarks is unpersuasive based on the relatively few relevant abbreviations and the obscure sources for some of those abbreviations."
Based on the uniqueness of MAPPIN and the familiarity of WEBB, consumers will not shorten or abbreviate Opposer’s mark to WEBB, M WEBB or M & WEBB. Rather, consumers will likely focus their attention on the MAPPIN element of the mark. The inclusion of the surname MAPPIN in MAPPIN & WEBB distinguishes the marks MAPPIN & WEBB and M WEBB as indicating different sources of goods.
The Board therefore found MAPPIN & WEBB and M WEBB to be more dissimilar than similar in terms of appearance, sound, connotation and commercial impression, and it dismissed the opposition.
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Text Copyright John L. Welch 2015.