Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Finding Transportation of Natural Gas Related to Freight Forwarding, TTAB Affirms 2(d) Refusal of "CGL"

Affirming a Section 2(d) refusal, the Board somewhat dubiously found the mark CGL for "transportation services, namely, transportation of natural gas via marine tankers," likely to cause confusion with the registered mark CGL & Design for "freight forwarding." The sophistication of the purchasers was outweighed by the similarity of the marks and the similarity of the services. In re SeaOne Maritime Corp., Serial No. 77436033 (March 30, 2010) [not precedential].

Not surprisingly, the Board found the marks to be similar in appearance, identical in sound and meaning, and highly similar in commercial impression.

As to the services, the Board relied on third-party registration evidence showing that "the same entity registered a single mark for freight forwarding and various transportation services." One of the registrations included "transportation and storage of fuels" and "freight forwarding." Several third-party websites showed that "the same entity renders both types of services, namely transportation services and freight forwarding."

Because there are no restrictions in the cited registration, the Board "must assume that registrant's freight forwarding services are offered via ships to entities in the energy field, just as in the case of applicant's transportation of natural gas via marine tankers." [That seems like a bit of a leap in logic to me - ed.]

And so, the Board found the services to be related.

Applicant argued that the purchasers of the involved services are "sophisticated customers who are discriminating due to the expensive cost of the services and the need for a quality provider of shipping needs." The Board, however, observed once again that "even careful purchasers are likely to be confused when encountering similar services offered under very similar marks." In short, "[t]he similarity between the marks and the similarity between the services outweigh any sophisticated purchasing decision."

Finally, the Board noted that any doubt on the likelihood of confusion issue must be resolved in favor of the prior registrant.

TTABlog comment: I just don't think the services are sufficiently related. Apparently there was a single third-party registration that included both freight forwarding and transportation of energy. The website evidence apparently did not show both freight forwarding and transportation of energy. I just don't think natural gas qualifies as "freight." Assuming that the purchasing decision is made with care, I would have reversed the refusal. I don't think the Examining Attorney proved her case.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2010.


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