The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) issued a precedential decision last week that will be helpful to applicants submitting either a Consent Agreement or a Coexistence Agreement to overcome a likelihood of confusion refusal. Dare Foods Inc. filed an application to register the proposed mark RAINCOAST DIP in standard characters with a disclaimer for “DIP” for snack foods. The Examining Attorney refused the application based on a registration for RAINCOAST TRADING, in standard characters with a disclaimer for “TRADING” for various seafood products.
The Board reversed the refusal stating, “clothed consent agreements where competitors have clearly thought out their commercial interests should be given great weight, and the USPTO should not substitute its judgment concerning likelihood of confusion for the judgment of the real parties in interest without good reason, that is, unless the other relevant factors clearly dictate a finding of likelihood of confusion.” See In re Dare Foods Inc., 2022 USPQ2d 291 (TTAB 2022) [precedential]; Four Seasons Hotels, 26 USPQ2d at 1073 (quoting In re N.A.D. Inc., 754 F.2d 996, 224 USPQ 969 (Fed. Cir. 1985)); see also DuPont, 177 USPQ at 568; Am. Cruise Lines, 128 USPQ2d at 1163. See the firm’s blog post entitled, A Precedential Board Decision Giving Great Weight To Consent Agreements, where the Board again reversed a refusal to register while giving substantial weight to the consent agreement entered into between the parties. The Board for In re Dare Foods Inc., concluded a detailed, “clothed” consent agreement will play a dominant role in a likelihood of confusion analysis.
In this case, the Board reviewed the following DuPont factors, similarities of the marks, similarities of the goods, the trade channels and classes of consumers, and the market interface and co-existence agreement. Regarding the marks, it was a simple task. Both applicant’s and registrant’s mark use the identical term RAINCOAST, and both marks contain a descriptive element that was disclaimed in each respective mark. Not only is the dominant element shared, but RAINCOAST appears as the first element in both marks. The marks in their entireties are similar.