TTAB Dismisses HEALTHPLEX Cancellation Petition Due to Differences in Services
The TTAB dismissed a petition for cancellation of a registration for the mark HEALTHPLEX for "Medical Services," finding that petitioner had failed to prove a likelihood of confusion with the identical mark for "dental health insurance services," including "providing group and individual dental health insurance plans." The Board found "no evidence that the services are related or that the trade channels overlap." Healthplex, Inc. v. Genesis Health System, Cancellation No. 92060507 (December 8, 2016) [not precedential].
Because the marks are identical, a lesser degree of similarity between the services is required to support a finding of likelihood of confusion. The Board noted that the services need not be identical or even competitive in order to support a finding of likelihood of confusion.
It is enough that they are related in some manner or that the circumstances surrounding their marketing are such that they would be likely to be seen by the same persons under circumstances which could give rise, because of the marks used, to a mistaken belief that Petitioner’s and Respondent’s services originate from or are in some way associated with the same source or that there is an association between the sources of the services.
Petitioner failed to introduce any evidence that the parties’ services are related. Instead it relied only on its attorney's argument that "medical services" is a broad description that must be read to include all type of medical services, including dental health services and/or healthcare insurance services. The Board was not impressed.
Moreover, even assuming that “medical services” encompasses “dental care,” petitioner did not established that it provides dental care. It established use of its mark for insurance services, not for any kind of medical or dental care.
Registration appear to have no relationship to Petitioner’s, and are targeted to different customers for different reasons. Furthermore, as explained in more detail below, Petitioner has not demonstrated that there is in fact a relationship between its services and Respondent’s, and there is no reason apparent from the record why the customers of one party would be exposed to the other’s services or mark.
The record did contain "ample evidence" of a lack of relationship between the services. For example, Petitioner’s website includes pages for members, dentists, group administrators, brokers and visitors interested in dental insurance, but not dental patients seeking to interact directly with a dentist.
Petitioner is in the insurance business, while Respondent provides medical care. The qualifications and skills required of the providers of these services and the needs of the relevant consumers are so different that there is no basis for finding a relationship between the parties’ services.
There was also no evidence of any overlap in channels of trade. Petitioner’s services are direct to providers of dental insurance for others, or for individuals who need dental insurance; Respondent’s medical services target ordinary patients seeking treatment or with medical issues.
While we acknowledge that purchasers of dental health insurance services, like everyone else, will likely desire or require “medical services” from time to time, that is not enough to establish that the services or channels of trade are related.
And so the Board dismissed the petition.
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TTABlog comment: Seems right to me. How do you feel?
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2016.