Wednesday, October 19, 2005

TTAB Suspends Madrid Opposition: Turkish Attorney Cannot File Answer

Invoking Trademark Rule 10.14, the Board suspended an opposition brought against a Section 66(a) application (a Madrid Request for Extension of Protection) because a Turkish attorney filed the answer to the Notice of Opposition. Westpoint Stevens Inc. I v. Universal Tekstil Sanayi Ve Ticaret Limited Sirketi, Opposition No. 91164850.

Westport Stevens commenced a Section 2(d) opposition on April 14, 2005, asserting that Universal Tekstil's mark VELSOFT (Stylized) for bed linen, fabrics, and similar goods in class 24, would be likely to cause confusion with the registered mark VELLUX for blankets, bedspreads, and fabrics. Universal Tekstil's answer was filed on May 23, 2005 by Erdal Handanoglu of Simaj Patent Limited Sirketi, Ankara, Turkey, as "Attorneys for Applicant." Opposer then notified the Board that Mr. Handanoglu did not appear to be qualified to practice before the Board.

In a suspension order dated September 2, 2005, Interlocutory Attorney Nancy L. Omelko pointed out that "Trademark Rule 10.14 does not permit foreign attorneys to practice before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board unless their country allows reciprocal privileges, which Turkey does not."

VELLUX® brand blankets

Applicant Universal was allowed thirty days within with "to appoint U.S. counsel, or to file a paper stating that applicant chooses to represent itself." The Board noted that if a response is not filed, "the Board may issue an order to show cause why default judgment should not be entered against applicant based on applicant's apparent loss of interest in the case."

As of this date, Universal has not filed a response.

TTABlog note: Currently, Canada is the only country that provides reciprocity to trademark practitioners. See TMEP Section 602.

TTABlog comment: It is noteworthy that, during prosecution of the VELSOFT application, Mr. Handanoglu was allowed to file responses to two PTO official actions, in violation of Rule 10.14. Perhaps that is why he believed he could appear in the opposition proceeding on behalf of Universal.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2005.


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