Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Stock Ticker Symbol HIG Confusable with H.I.G. for Financial Services, Says TTAB

The Board affirmed a refusal to register the mark HIG for, inter alia, "financial services," finding confusion likely with the registered mark H.I.G., in standard character and design form (below) for "investment services in the nature of venture capital and private equity financing, and investment banking services." The Board found these services to be legally identical. Focusing on the cited standard character mark, it found the marks to be confusingly similar. Is that the end of the story? In re Hartford Fire Insurance Company, Serial No. 90263124 (March 11, 2024) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Mark Lebow).

Applicant Hartford pointed out that its stock ticker symbol HIG has been publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1995, peacefully co-existing with the cited registrations. It argued that its use of the mark HIG as a stock symbol "is a dramatically different use than the use made of the marks in the registrations."

Specifically, it asserts, “Registrant’s use is made in connection with financial services sold to consumers and promoted through its website,” whereas “Applicant’s stock securities are only available for purchase.” Thus, “[t]he refusal and the arguments by the Examining Attorney do not take into account the dramatically different uses by Applicant and Registrant in this situation.”

The Board pointed out, however, that proof of actual confusion is not necessary to establish a likelihood of confusion. Furthermore,Hartford's argument regarding the differences in the services actually offered missed the point. "The question of likelihood of confusion must be determined based on an analysis of the services recited in Applicant’s application, rather than what evidence or attorney argument shows the services might be."

Hartford stated that "its primary intention with the application is to protect its stock ticker symbol." It explained:

Since there is currently no approved identification relating to the sale of securities on a public exchange in the Official Identification Manual, Applicant described its services with both specific and broad terms. Once the U.S. Trademark Office approves an identification for stock ticker symbols, Applicant will amend its identification to exclude the broader wording. Applicant respectfully submits that once this is done, there will be no likelihood of confusion.

The Board found this to be an acknowledgement by Hartford that "at least until such time as the USPTO adopts an identification for stock ticker symbols, that its recitation of services is currently broad enough to result in a likelihood of confusion."

And so, the Board affirmed the refusal.

Read comments and post your comment here.

TTABlogger comment: Is Hartford ticked off?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2024.


At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from the 2(d) refusal, I'm not sure why the applicant thought it would be able to register its mark for selling its *own* stock.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't a ticker symbol a purely functional term!

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous imperial trademark said...

The Board's decision to refuse registration of the mark "HIG" for financial services, citing likelihood of confusion with the registered mark "H.I.G.," underscores the importance of considering similarity in marks for similar services. Despite differences in design, the legal identity of the services was a key factor in the decision. This case highlights the complexity of trademark disputes and the need for careful consideration of all relevant factors.


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