Wednesday, February 13, 2008

TTAB Reverses 2(d) Refusal: "ROYALE" for Camping Trailers Not Confusingly Similar to "ROYAL CARGO" for Cargo Trailers

In late October 2007, the TTAB came to Boston for a conference at Suffolk Law School, where it heard the final arguments in In re Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc., Serial No. 78579524 (February 2, 2008) [not precedential]. After the argument, a straw poll of attendees indicated that they were virtually unanimous in expecting the Applicant to prevail. They were right.

ROYAL CARGO brand trailer

The Board reversed a Section 2(d) refusal of the mark ROYALE for "folding camping trailers," finding it not likely to cause confusion with the registered mark ROYAL CARGO for "[t]railers and transportation equipment, namely, stock trailers, horse trailers, utility trailers, flatdeck trailers, truck decks, enclosed cargo trailers for the transportation of snowmobiles, automobiles and other equipment, and cargo trailers" [CARGO disclaimed].

"[A] combination of factors, taken together" led to the conclusion that confusion was not likely. Although the Board considered the words "ROYALE" and "ROYAL" to have the same meaning, it was a "somewhat suggestive meaning" [suggesting quality] and therefore these words are entitled to "a more limited scope of protection than otherwise might apply." The difference in spelling is of "some importance" in distinguishing the words, and "there is also a subtle difference in connotation and commercial impression between the spellings -- ROYALE suggests something 'continental' or rare." The Board also noted that the word CARGO, although disclaimed, cannot be ignored and "may play a significant role in distinguishing the marks overall." Based on the combination of these differences, the Board concluded that the marks are more dissimilar than similar, particularly when considered along with the other pertinent du Pont factors.

Turning to the goods, Applicant Fleetwood argued that "a camping trailer is not considered transportation equipment in the sense of carrying cargo." The Board agreed that "folding camping trailers" are not encompassed by the identification of goods of the cited registration. Moreover, because of the difference in purpose of the involved goods, the Board refused to presume that the goods travel in the same trade channels.

Finally, the Board agreed with Applicant that the involved goods are not likely to be purchased on impulse, but rather only after some care.

Based on the "cumulative effect of the differences in the marks, differences in the goods and channels of trade for the goods and the conditions of purchase," the Board concluded that confusion is not likely, and it reversed the refusal.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2007.


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