For purposes of likelihood of confusion, not all beverage trademarks are created equal.
In Patrón Spirits International AG v. Conyngham Brewing Company, the Applicant sought registration of the mark PIRATE PISS for “beer, ale, and lager” in International Class 32. Opposer Patron had opposed the application based on its ownership of the previously registered marks PYRAT and PYRAT RUM for distilled spirits and rum in International Class 32. Patron had disclaimed exclusive rights in and to the term “rum” as uses in the latter mark separate and apart from the mark as shown. In support of its case, Patron had submitted its registrations, and various internet printouts showing various spellings of the term “pirate.” In addition, it introduced 13 third-party registrations showing marks where the goods contained both beer and rum. However, of these, only 6 were use-based registrations, prompting the Board to observe:
Opposer’s submission of the six relevant third-party registrations is not very convincing for purposes of showing that beer and rum are sufficiently related that consumers expect them to emanate from the same source.
There is no per se rule that all beverages are related for purposes of likelihood of confusion. The Board noted that while beer and wine are often found to be related in trademark oppositions involving beverages, each case must be weighed by its own facts and evidence. Here, the Board proceeded to conclude that Opposer could not evade its burden of proving relatedness of the goods by “bootstrapping upon previous factual findings made in other decisions on different records.” In the end, it believed that the both the quality and quantity of Opposer’s evidence was insufficient to prove that beer and rum are related goods for purposes of likelihood of confusion. This factor, as well as the unique connotation and strong commercial impression of Applicant’s mark helped to distinguish it from Opposer’s mark. Accordingly, the Board dismissed the Opposition and ruled in favor of Applicant.
Practice Tip: In proving the relatedness of beverage trademarks, an Opposer should cite to as many third-party use based registrations as possible and further present probative evidence that the related goods in question are in use by the same source. Note, however, that if the marks being compared are identical or highly similar, the degree of relatedness required between the respective goods need not be as great.