Today the Supreme Court announced its decision in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. B&B Hardware (B&B) sells a fastener product in the aerospace industry under the trademark “Sealtight,” which it registered in 1993. Hargis Industries (Hargis) sells self-drilling screws under the mark “Sealtite” in the construction industry. After Hargis applied to register its mark in 1996, B&B opposed the application successfully and also sued Hargis for infringement. In that action B&B argued unsuccessfully that Hargis was precluded from litigating the likelihood of confusion issue due to the prior TTAB ruling. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s holding.
In trademark infringement suits, how much weight, if any, should federal courts give to Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) decisions on the likelihood of confusion between marks? Today, it depends—the circuits are split. That may soon change, however, as the U.S. Supreme Court last week agreed to take the issue under review.
In a precedential opinion, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the "TTAB") today ruled that the petitioners in Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc. established by a preponderance of the evidence that the term "redskins" is disparaging to Native Americans and cancelled six registered trademarks owned by the Washington Redskins football team.
In honor of Johnny Manziel’s pro day, there’s something for the Texas A&M star to celebrate. Just last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected an application made by an entity unaffiliated with Manziel for the mark JOHNNY FOOTBALL, paving the way for Manziel’s application to proceed.