Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: July 1, 2014
Case #: 13-352
Court Below: 716 F.3d 1020 (8th Cir. 2013)
Full Text Opinion: http://www2.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/BB_Hardware_Inc_v_Hargis_Indus_Inc_716_F3d_1020_106_USPQ2d_1660_8

Civil Procedure: Whether the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's findings preclude the relitigation of those same issues in subsequent litigation.

The Lanham Act prohibits the registration of a trademark that would be “likely to cause confusion” with another, pre-existing mark. Petitioner owns the registered mark “SEALTIGHT.” Respondent used and sought the registered mark “SEALTITE.” When Petitioner initially sought to prevent Respondent from acquiring or using the mark, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruled that the mark was “likely to cause confusion.” In the following litigation, the Eighth Circuit allowed relitigation of that issue under a different theory instead of precluding it.

Petitioner argues that the Eighth Circuit’s ruling prevents any TTAB decisions on the likelihood-to-confuse issue from ever being final. The Eighth Circuit’s precedent also wrongly prevents the TTAB, the expert trademark tribunal, from interpreting the Lanham Act.