Precedential No. 41: TTAB Refuses Reconsideration of its Denial of Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
Once in a great while, a precedential interlocutory ruling of the TTAB slips through the TTABlog crack. Here's one from December 2015 (although I can't understand why it earned the precedential label). The Board had denied (here) Respondent Knowluxe's FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Guess?'s petition for cancellation of a registration for the mark shown below, for caps and t-shirts. On this request for reconsideration of that ruling, respondent likewise had no luck. Guess? IP Holder L.P. v. Knowluxe LLC, 116 USPQ2d 2018 (TTAB 2015) [precedential].
In its 12(b)(6) motion, Knowluxe argued that Guess?'s claims of likelihood of confusion and dilution were implausible and that the asserted trademark rights in a triangle design "conflict with the doctrine of aesthetic functionality and the prohibition against claims of trademark rights in gross."
The Board pointed out that "[a] motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim concerns only one issue: the legal sufficiency of the pleaded claims." It concluded that the motion had been properly considered.
The Board’s denial of the motion to dismiss set forth the legal standard for determining the sufficiency of the pleadings, the requirements for properly pleading likelihood of confusion and dilution, and the allegations in the petition to cancel which satisfied those requirements. Nothing more was necessary to explain that Petitioner properly pleaded its likelihood of confusion and dilution claims. Respondent’s further arguments regarding matters other than the legal sufficiency of the claims were superfluous.
Respondent’s arguments were in the nature of defenses, but the standard for considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. The petition here met that standard.
The Board noted that respondent will have "the opportunity to assert any appropriate defense, develop the record, and argue the merits of its case, but consideration of the merits is premature at this juncture."
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TTABlog comment: Pretty basic, don't you think?
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2016.