The Board dismissed this opposition involving the two marks shown immediately below, for clothing embedded or infused with copper [COPPER 88 disclaimed], finding the marks too dissimilar to support a Section 2(d) likelihood of confusion claim. The Board also dismissed Opposer Tommie Copper’s fraud claim, despite applicant’s admission that its specimen of use were “mock ups” that were never used. Tommie Copper IP, Inc. v. Gcool-Tech Usa LLC, Opposition No. 91223768 (May 9, 2018) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Thomas Shaw).
Applicant’s brand manager testified that applicant was not selling any goods bearing its COPPER 88 + Design mark in this country as of the filing date of the opposed application. Samples were given out to reps and his mother gave a few items to friends. The claimed dates of first use actually applied to goods offered under a different mark.
The Board found that applicant “was not selling any of its goods under the applied-for mark in the United States as of the filing date,” and that applicant’s statement that it was “using the mark in commerce was a false, material representation of fact to the USPTO.”
The question, then, was whether applicant intended to deceive the USPTO.
Applicant’s witness testified that his father (applicant’s founder) “was under the mistaken impression that its use of the mark in other countries constituted use of the mark in the United States.”
A: So the way that I see it, I think he got confused because he was using it. And I think he was confused. Also, I think he was confused about using CU Compression by GCool as something. So my dad’s – my dad’s not a lawyer.
Of course, the witness expressly denied that Applicant had any intent to deceive the USPTO. He agreed with with the question posed by opposer’s lawyer that applicant “just didn’t really understand legally what it meant to use a trademark in commerce.” “I honestly think there was a lot of confusion.”
The Board found no direct evidence of an intent to deceive the USPTO and insufficient evidence to warrant the inference of an intent to deceive.
As established above, at the time of filing the application, Applicant had distributed samples to prospective distributors in the United States, was developing prototype garments including “hooded sweatshirts,” was selling copper-embedded fabric under a different brand, and had sold goods in Canada under the applied-for mark.
None of those acts qualified as use in commerce, but just because applicant was wrong in thinking that these acts satisfied the requirements for filing an application does not mean that applicant had a deceptive intent. As stated in In re Bose:
There is no fraud if a false misrepresentation is occasioned by an honest misunderstanding or inadvertence without a willful intent to deceive. . . . Unless the challenger can point to evidence to support an inference of deceptive intent, it has failed to satisfy the clear and convincing evidence standard required to establish a fraud claim.
Opposer pointed to no evidence of a deceptive intent. In fact, in its questioning of the witness, opposer expressly assumed that applicant had a “mistaken belief” at the time of filing, and that it “didn’t really understand” the concept of use in commerce.
And so the Board dismissed opposer’s fraud claim.