The USPTO refused to register the mark CAREBOARD for computer hardware and software for monitoring hospital patients, staff, and equipment, finding the mark likely to cause confusion with the registered markECAREBOARD for interactive computer platforms for providing information to patients. Applicant argued on appeal that the letter “E” distinguishes the marks, and that the goods/services are different because its goods are medical workstations whereas registrant’s services are provided via the cloud. How do you think this came out? In re West-Com Nurse Call Systems, Inc., Serial No. 86935321 (November 14, 2017) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Linda A. Kuczma).

The Marks: The Board observed that the difference between the two marks is the single letter “E,” which describes a feature or characteristic of registrant’s services, namely, that they are electronic or Internet-related. “Indeed, the ‘E’ prefix is commonly recognized and understood as a designation for the Internet, particularly when followed by a separately identifiable term such as ‘CAREBOARD.'” Therefore the prefix “E” is less significant in creating the overall impression of Registrant’s mark. The Board concluded that the marks convey the same overall commercial impression and are “very similar.”

The Goods/Services: Applicant’s argument that its goods are clearly different from registrant’s platform services “misses the mark.” The goods and services need only be related in such a way that confusion as to source would likely arise. Here, the goods and services could be marketed to the same customers, namely, hospitals providing a patient information board for communication purposes. The respective websites of applicant and registrant contain highly similar promotional information. “In other words, the identified goods and services are marketed to the same consumers … and provide the same functions, namely, providing patents with information on their care while hospitalized.

Applicant’s potential customers are likely to believe that Applicant’s electronic indicator board that is integrated into nurse-call systems used for equipment and patient monitoring and its computer hardware and software for gathering and transmitting real time equipment and patient monitoring data and staff information, used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, are related products emanating from Registrant or that Applicant’s goods and Registrant’s services are associated with the same source.

Moreover, third-party registrations showed that the goods and services here at issue – software and platforms – are of a kind that may emanate from a single source under a single mark.

Finally, applicant argued that the purchasers of the involved goods and services would be sophisticated. The Board, however, observed once again that under these circumstances, where the marks are nearly identical, even sophisticated purchasers may be confused.

And so the Board affirmed the refusal.