The USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB) recently issued three relevant decisions to the wine, beer, and spirits industries. The decisions are summarized below.
- In In re Harlequin Enterprises Limited, Serial No. 86761280 (September 7, 2017) [not precedential], Applicant (Harlequin Enterprises Limited, a purveyor of romance novels) sought to register a design mark (similar to a book spine) that contained the terms VINTAGES BY HARLEQUIN (with the term “VINTAGES” disclaimed) for wine in International Class 33. The Examining Attorney originally issued a refusal under 2(d) of the Trademark Act on the grounds that Applicant’s mark resembled prior registration for the mark HARLEQUIN for liqueur. Applicant appealed to the TTAB and argued that its fame in connection with romance novels made the potential confusion between Applicant’s wine and Registrant’s liqueur unlikely. The Board found that the evidence presented by Applicant was “impressive and undisputed” in regard to the fame of the mark HARLEQUIN with respect to romance novels. See id. at 3. While the Board accepted and did not dispute that Applicant’s fame for the mark HARLEQUIN for romance novels, the Board argued that fame did not make confusion unlikely. Further, the Board said that the marks and devices used in promoting Applicant’s wine (which were not reflected in the drawing page for the proposed registration) were irrelevant to the Board’s analysis.