Friday, April 12, 2019

TTABlog Test: Is THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS Confusable with COSABELLA and BELLA COSA for Retail Store Services?

The USPTO refused to register the mark THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS, in standard character form, for "operating on-line marketplaces featuring clothing and jewelry," finding a likelihood of confusion with the registered marks COSABELLA for retail apparel stores, and BELLA COSA for retail jewelry store services, both of which marks translate to "BEAUTIFUL THING." Applicant contended that the differences in appearance and sound of the marks outweigh the similarity in meaning. How do you think this came out? In re Beautiful Dreamer LLC, Serial No. 87161372 (April 8, 2019) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Karen Kuhlke).

The Board found the services recited in the application and cited registration to be legally identical, and it therefore presumed that they are offered through the same trade channels to the same classes of consumers.

In light of the differences in appearance and sound between applicant's mark and the cited marks, the examining attorney relied on the doctrine of foreign equivalents in maintaining that the marks are similar in connotation and that this similarity suffices to support a finding of likelihood of confusion.

Applicant did not dispute the conclusion that COSABELLA and BELLA COSA translate to BEAUTIFUL THING, and it acknowledged that its mark THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS, "may be the foreign equivalent of the registered marks.” However, Applicant contended that the differences in appearance and sound outweigh the similarity in meaning

The Board observed, however, that "such similarity as there is in connotation [between the foreign word mark and the English word mark] must be weighed against the dissimilarity in appearance, sound, and all other factors, before reaching a conclusion on likelihood of confusion as to source.” (quoting In re Sarkli, Ltd., 721 F.2d 353, 220 USPQ 111, 113 (Fed. Cir. 1983).

The Board found that "the connotation or meaning of the marks is the same, other than the fact that the marks in the registrations are in singular form and the applied-for mark is in plural form." It also found that the wording “beautiful things” is somewhat laudatory and to thus "falls more on the suggestive end of the spectrum." Thus, regardless of whether a consumer may stop and translate COSABELLA or BELLA COSA, the suggestiveness of these marks lessens the possibility that confusion is likely. [Why is that? They all suggest the same thing, and even weak marks are entitled to protection. - ed.].

The Board sided with applicant:

Overall, we find that the dissimilarities in appearance, sound, and commercial impression outweigh the similarity in connotation applying the doctrine of foreign equivalents in view of the inherent weakness of the phrase “beautiful thing[s]” in connection with retail sales of jewelry and clothing, which are things that may be beautiful, and this du Pont factor weighs against finding a likelihood of confusion. Moreover, we find this factor to be pivotal in that this factor of the dissimilarities of the marks outweighs the other factors such that confusion is not likely

And so the Board reversed the refusal.

Read comments and post your comment here.

TTABlog comment: Some practitioners think it's a "beautiful thing" any time a USPTO refusal is reversed. But these doctrine of equivalent cases are troublingly inconsistent, aren't they?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2019.


At 7:52 AM, Blogger Carole Barrett said...

OMG! From the Cosabella website: Cosabella, meaning "beautiful thing", was founded in 1983 by the Italian husband and wife team of Ugo and Valeria Campello. Now a second generation family business, with Silvia and Guido Campello leading Cosabella’s creative direction. Cosabella gained its initial recognition with the design of bodysuits in the mid-eighties. Over 30 years later the brand now comprises diverse product mix of intimates, swimwear, shapewear and loungewear sold worldwide. Cosabella blends American innovation and Italian artisanship with design headquarters in Miami and production headquarters in Italy.

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's one thing to tell a client that a rejection is possible based on the examining attorney that is assigned, but how do you tell them that even the TTAB can't take a consistent position. I'm glad to see this opinion. Now hopefully the next five are consistent with this.


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