Prevailing in a TTAB opposition proceeding against a food and beverage company proves to be sweet for the makers of Nutella.
In Ferrero S.p.A. v. Ruchi Soya Industries Limited, Ferrero, who is the owner of the NUTELLA spread brand, opposed Applicant’s mark NUTRELA for a wide variety of food and beverage products in International Classes 29 and 30. The Opposer relied on four registrations of NUTELLA and NUTELLA and Design for its well-known hazelnut spread, beverages, and an extensive list of meat and dairy products, as well as coffee, tea, and desserts and other food items.
In its likelihood of confusion analysis, the Board first considered if the marks NUTELLA and NUTRELLA and Design were similar in sight, sound, meaning, and commercial impression. It concluded the differences between the marks to be insignificant, so this factor weighed in favor of a finding of a likelihood of confusion. it then compared the NUTELLA mark and goods listed in Reg. No. 4192415 (which consisted of a large assortment of food and beverage products with Applicant’s goods, some of which were overlapping to Opposer’s goods. While the analysis to determine whether a likelihood of confusion exists under Trademark Act 2(d) takes into account all the relevant facts in evidence, two of the key factors are similarity of the marks and similarity of the goods. The TTAB first considered the fame of Opposer’s NUTELLA mark, as famous marks are afforded a broad scope of protection. Based on Opposer’s evidence of widespread success, recognition and sales, the Board found that the NUTELLA mark is famous.
The TTAB next went on to assess the similarity of the parties’ respective goods. Noting that several of the parties’ goods are legally identical, it indicated that it did not need to make the same determination for all other goods. In other words, a similarity between the parties’ goods for a certain class will apply to all goods in that class. Moreover, where Applicant’s and Opposer’s goods are in-part identical, the TTAB presumes that the channels of trade and classes of purchasers for those goods are the same. Based on a totality of the facts, the TTAB concluded that a likelihood of confusion existed and entered judgment in favor of the Opposer.
Editor’s Note: If you are the Opposer in a TTAB Opposition proceeding, be sure that your evidentiary proof of sales, marketing, and advertising expenditures are introduced to ensure the support of your case. To learn more about proving likelihood of confusion, please contact us.