TMEP 1201.07(b): Appropriate Action with Respect to Assertion of Unity of Control

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1201.07(b)    Appropriate Action with Respect to Assertion of Unity of Control

First, it is important to note that analysis under Wella is not triggered until an applicant affirmatively asserts that a §2(d) refusal is inappropriate because the applicant and the registrant, though separate legal entities, constitute a single source, or the applicant raises an equivalent argument. Examining attorneys should issue §2(d) refusals in any case where an analysis of the marks and the goods or services of the respective parties indicates a bar to registration under §2(d). The examining attorney should not attempt to analyze the relationship between an applicant and registrant until an applicant, in some form, relies on the nature of the relationship to obviate a refusal under §2(d).

Once an applicant has made this assertion, the question is whether the specific relationship is such that the two entities constitute a "single source," so that there is no likelihood of confusion. The following guidelines may assist the examining attorney in resolving questions of likelihood of confusion when the marks are owned by related companies and the applicant asserts unity of control. (In many of these situations, the applicant may choose to attempt to overcome the §2(d) refusal by submitting a consent agreement or other conventional evidence to establish no likelihood of confusion. See TMEP §1207.01(d). Another way to overcome a §2(d) refusal is to assign all relevant registrations to the same party.)