Wednesday, October 13, 2021

CAFC Upholds TTAB: GM's "SUPER CRUISE" Driving System Not Related to "SUPERCRUISE" Computer Components for Section 2(d) Purposes

In a non-precedential ruling, the CAFC upheld the TTAB's decision (here) denying a petition for cancellation of a General Motors registration for the mark SUPER CRUISE for "computer software, cameras, ultrasonic sensors, global positioning system and radar object detectors fro the semi-autonomous driving of motor vehicles." The Board concluded that Petitioner Micro Mobio failed to prove a likelihood of confusion with its registered mark SUPERCRUISE for "“Semiconductor devices, computer hardware, and computer software for use in design, simulation and control of electronic circuits and antenna, receiving and transmitting signals, and modulation, demodulation and media access control in voice and data communications." Appellant Micro Mobio raised seven issue in its appeal, but the court found that none of them had merit. Micro Mobio Corporation v. General Motors LLC, Apeal No. 2021-1591 (Fed. Cir. October 12, 2021) [not precedential].

Micro Mobio argued that the Board should have found its mark SUPERCRUISE arbitrary or fanciful, rather than highly suggestive. The Board found that the mark indicated that the goods "facilitate the extremely quick and smooth receipt and transfer of signals." Micro Mobio insisted that General Motors should have been stuck with the definition of cruise that it "used in its registration" (sic): "to sail from place to place, as for pleasure or in search of something." The court was unmoved. A finding of suggestiveness can be based on any of several definitions of a term, and GM was not prohibited from advocating a different one from that stated in its application.

As to the goods, the court found no legal error in the Board's test for determining whether the involved goods are related: goods are related if the are likely to be encountered by the same purchasers who would be led to believe that the goods came from the same source.

Micro Mobio argued that the Board made a factual error in not finding the goods related, since GM's product contains and depends on computer hardware and software. That is the wrong question. The correct question is stated in the paragraph above. Furthermore, Micro Mobio was wrong in claiming the goods are complementary simply because GM's SUPER CRUISE system uses goods like those of Micro Mobio in order to function.


 

Since the involve goods are not identical, the Board was correct in not presuming that they travel in the same trade channels. Rather, the Board found the goods to be quite dissimilar. GM's products are sold through their own dealers, while Micro Mobio's are sold to original equipment manufacturers or individual engineers in the wireless and mobile phone industry. Thus the channel of trade and classes of consumers do not overlap.

The court found no error in the Board's conclusion that there is no likelihood of post-sale confusion, since Micro Mobio's goods are not auto parts, and there was no evidence that Micro Mobio sells system parts that would be used to repair or service vehicles featuring GM's SUPER CRUISE system. 

Finally, Micro Mobius claimed that the Board was mistaken in finding the extent of potential confusion to be de minimis, since every sale of a GM system involves a sale of a connectivity module as part of the system. The Board, however, found that substantial evidence supported the Board's finding. Just because computer components are found in all sorts of products, such as washing machines, watches, and toys, does not mean that the computer components are complementary goods to those products for purposes of trademark law.

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TTABlogger comment:

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2021.

3 Comments:

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SUPER CRUISE is not generic/merely descriptive for cruise control? Oh wait, a smart attorney didn't describe the g&s as "cruise control" and the Board limits itself to the description of goods in the registration when it feels like it. Although GM seems to have good luck even with honest G&S descriptions....

See STOLEN VEHICLE SLOWDOWN for "Security services for motor land vehicle theft recovery, namely, providing remote vehicle deceleration by signaling an on-board electronic device" (description made even more descriptive by examiner's amendment).

https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=77328952&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger Eddie said...

"Micro Mobio argued that the Board should have found its mark SUPERCRUISE arbitrary or fanciful, rather than highly suggestive. The Board found that the mark indicated that the goods "facilitate the extremely quick and smooth receipt and transfer of signals."

Supercruise suggests quick and smooth receipt and transfer of signals? What the? In whose world?

Cruising is slow and deliberate and smooth or signals have nothing to do with the name. And a super cruise is either a luxurious cruise or just the ultimate in cruising--which again is slow and nonchalant and no real purpose. Relaxing. a vacation.



 
At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another case of the Board siding with the big guys...someone should make a chart showing the win percentage of TTAB decisions vis-a-vis number of trademark applications

 

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