TTAB Likelihood of Confusion Ruling Precludes District Court Relitigation

B&B Hardware, Inc. owns the federally registered trademark SEALTIGHT for aerospace industry fasteners.  Hargis Industries, Inc. tried to register the trademark SEALTITE for construction industry fasteners with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).  B&B filed an opposition to Hargis’ trademark registration application.  The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) determined that registering Hargis’ SEALTITE would likely cause confusion with B&B’s SEALTIGHT trademark and refused to register Hargis’ mark. 

Concurrently with the TTAB proceeding, B&B sued Hargis for trademark infringement.  The district court refused to accept the TTAB’s likelihood of confusion ruling.  The case was sent to the jury, who found no likelihood of confusion.  The Eight Circuit affirmed the district court decision.  The Supreme Court recently ruled that the TTAB’s likelihood of confusion ruling should have precluded the issue from being relitigated in the district court.

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