The USPTO keeps unravelling its office actions.
On December 23, 2015, two trademarks regarding Electronic Arts' puzzle platformer Unravel were abdoned as EA failed to respond to an office action by the USPTO. An abandonment notice was mailed on January 19, 2016. The two trademarks filings are US serial number 86564978, Unravel, for goods and services "Computer game software" and US serial number 86564980, Unravel, for goods and services "Entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game". What was this office action then?
Well, on June 22, 2015, the USPTO issued an office action against EA's filings on these grounds:
Sources: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=86...e=statusSearch http://tsdr.uspto.gov/documentviewer...Index=0&page=1
Registration of the applied-for mark is refused because of a likelihood of confusion with the mark in U.S. Registration No. 4227793. Trademark Act Section 2(d), 15 U.S.C. §1052(d); see TMEP §§1207.01 et seq.
U.S. Registration No. 4227793, "Unravel", is hold by SimplyFun, a board game company, and regards a board game called "Beary's Unravel Game", which offers kids the opportunity to practice holding attention and mentally trace a path in their heads.
Let's take a look at what else the USPTO had to say about this (the whole document is 123 pages long, so I won't post all of it):
Trademark Act Section 2(d) bars registration of an applied-for mark that so resembles a registered mark that it is likely a potential consumer would be confused, mistaken, or deceived as to the source of the goods and/or services of the applicant and registrant. See 15 U.S.C. §1052(d). A determination of likelihood of confusion under Section 2(d) is made on a case-by case basis and the factors set forth in In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 476 F.2d 1357, 177 USPQ 563 (C.C.P.A. 1973) aid in this determination. Citigroup Inc. v. Capital City Bank Grp., Inc., 637 F.3d 1344, 1349, 98 USPQ2d 1253, 1256 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (citing On-Line Careline, Inc. v. Am. Online, Inc., 229 F.3d 1080, 1085, 56 USPQ2d 1471, 1474 (Fed. Cir. 2000)). Not all the du Pont factors, however, are necessarily relevant or of equal weight, and any one of the factors may control in a given case, depending upon the evidence of record. Citigroup Inc. v. Capital City Bank Grp., Inc., 637 F.3d at 1355, 98 USPQ2d at 1260; In re Majestic Distilling Co., 315 F.3d 1311, 1315, 65 USPQ2d 1201, 1204 (Fed. Cir. 2003); see In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 476 F.2d at 1361-62, 177 USPQ at 567.
In this case, the following factors are the most relevant: similarity of the marks, similarity and nature of the goods and/or services, and similarity of the trade channels of the goods and/or services. See In re Viterra Inc., 671 F.3d 1358, 1361-62, 101 USPQ2d 1905, 1908 (Fed. Cir. 2012); In re Dakin’s Miniatures Inc., 59 USPQ2d 1593, 1595-96 (TTAB 1999); TMEP §§1207.01 et seq.
In any likelihood of confusion determination, two key considerations are similarity of the marks and similarity or relatedness of the goods and/or services. Syndicat Des Proprietaires Viticulteurs De Chateauneuf-Du-Pape v. Pasquier DesVignes, 107 USPQ2d 1930, 1938 (TTAB 2013) (citing Federated Foods, Inc. v. Fort Howard Paper Co., 544 F.2d 1098, 1103, 192 USPQ 24, 29 (C.C.P.A. 1976)); In re Iolo Techs., LLC, 95 USPQ2d 1498, 1499 (TTAB 2010); see TMEP §1207.01. That is, the marks are compared in their entireties for similarities in appearance, sound, connotation, and commercial impression. In re Viterra Inc., 671 F.3d 1358, 1362, 101 USPQ2d 1905, 1908 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (quoting In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 476 F.2d 1357, 1361, 177 USPQ 563, 567 (C.C.P.A. 1973)); TMEP §1207.01(b)-(b)(v). Additionally, the goods and/or services are compared to determine whether they are similar or commercially related or travel in the same trade channels. See Coach Servs., Inc. v. Triumph Learning LLC, 668 F.3d 1356, 1369-71, 101 USPQ2d 1713, 1722-23 (Fed. Cir. 2012); Herbko Int’l, Inc. v. Kappa Books, Inc., 308 F.3d 1156, 1165, 64 USPQ2d 1375, 1381 (Fed. Cir. 2002); TMEP §1207.01, (a)(vi).
Comparison of the Marks
Marks are compared in their entireties for similarities in appearance, sound, connotation, and commercial impression. Stone Lion Capital Partners, LP v. Lion Capital LLP, 746 F.3d 1317, 1321, 110 USPQ2d 1157, 1160 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (quoting Palm Bay Imps., Inc. v. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Maison Fondee En 1772, 396 F. 3d 1369, 1371, 73 USPQ2d 1689, 1691 (Fed. Cir. 2005)); TMEP §1207.01(b)-(b)(v). “Similarity in any one of these elements may be sufficient to find the marks confusingly similar.” In re Davia, 110 USPQ2d 1810, 1812 (TTAB 2014) (citing In re White Swan Ltd., 8 USPQ2d 1534, 1535 (TTAB 1988); In re 1st USA Realty Prof’ls, Inc., 84 USPQ2d 1581, 1586 (TTAB 2007)); TMEP §1207.01(b).
When comparing marks, the test is not whether the marks can be distinguished in a side-by-side comparison, but rather whether the marks are sufficiently similar in terms of their overall commercial impression that confusion as to the source of the goods and/or services offered under the respective marks is likely to result. Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. v. Societe des Produits Nestle S.A., 685 F.3d 1046, 1053, 103 USPQ2d 1435, 1440 (Fed. Cir. 2012); In re Davia, 110 USPQ2d 1810, 1813 (TTAB 2014); TMEP §1207.01(b). The proper focus is on the recollection of the average purchaser, who retains a general rather than specific impression of trademarks. United Global Media Grp., Inc. v. Tseng, 112 USPQ2d 1039, 1049, (TTAB 2014); L’Oreal S.A. v. Marcon, 102 USPQ2d 1434, 1438 (TTAB 2012); TMEP §1207.01(b).
The applicant’s mark, “UNRAVEL” is identical to the registrant’s mark, “UNRAVEL”, and will lead to consumer confusion
Comparison of the Goods and Services
When determining whether there is a likelihood of confusion, all circumstances surrounding the sale of the goods and/or services are considered. Industrial Nucleonics Corp. v. Hinde, 475 F.2d 1197, 177 USPQ 386 (C.C.P.A. 1973). These circumstances include the marketing channels, the identity of the prospective purchasers and the degree of similarity between the marks and between the goods and/or services. In comparing the marks, similarity in any one of the elements of sound, appearance or meaning is sufficient to find a likelihood of confusion. In comparing the goods and/or services, it is necessary to show that they are related in some manner. In re Mack, 197 USPQ 755, 757 (TTAB 1977); TMEP §§1207.01 et seq.
The goods and/or services of the parties need not be identical or even competitive to find a likelihood of confusion. See On-line Careline Inc. v. Am. Online Inc., 229 F.3d 1080, 1086, 56 USPQ2d 1471, 1475 (Fed. Cir. 2000); Recot, Inc. v. Becton, 214 F.3d 1322, 1329, 54 USPQ2d 1894, 1898 (Fed. Cir. 2000) (“[E]ven if the goods in question are different from, and thus not related to, one another in kind, the same goods can be related in the mind of the consuming public as to the origin of the goods.”); TMEP §1207.01(a)(i).
The respective goods and/or services need only be “related in some manner and/or if the circumstances surrounding their marketing [be] such that they could give rise to the mistaken belief that [the goods and/or services] emanate from the same source.” Coach Servs., Inc. v. Triumph Learning LLC, 668 F.3d 1356, 1369, 101 USPQ2d 1713, 1722 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (quoting 7-Eleven Inc. v. Wechsler, 83 USPQ2d 1715, 1724 (TTAB 2007)); TMEP §1207.01(a)(i).
If the marks of the respective parties are identical, the relationship between the goods or services of the respective parties need not be as close to support a finding of likelihood of confusion as might apply where differences exist between the marks. Century 21 Real Estate Corp. v. Century Life of America, 970 F.2d 874, 877, 23 USPQ2d 1698, 1701 (Fed. Cir. 1992), cert. denied 506 U.S. 1034 (1992); In re Opus One Inc., 60 USPQ2d 1812, 1815 (TTAB 2001); Amcor, Inc. v. Amcor Industries, Inc., 210 USPQ 70 (TTAB 1981); TMEP §1207.01(a).
The applicant’s goods are “Computer game software; Downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices; Video game software.”
The registrant’s goods are “board games; games, namely, educational games and parlor games using tiles.”
Could we perhaps be seeing a new name for this game?
Unravel me if old.