Third-party registrations may help an applicant overcome a Section 2(d) refusal under Juice Generation and Jack Wolfskin, but it depends on the quantity and quality. Here, twelve third-party registrations demonstrated the weakness of the word SQUEEZE and led the Board to reverse a Section 2(d) refusal of SQUEEZE JUICE COMPANY for “Fruit juices; Vegetable juices; Smoothies” and for “Juice bar services; Smoothie bar services; Cafe services” [JUICE COMPANY disclaimed], over the registered mark SQUEEZE & Design shown immediately below, for “bar services; juice bar services.” In re Boston Juicery, LLC., Serial No. 86877537 (August 21, 2018) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Angela Lykos).
The goods and services: The Board found the involved good and services to be identical in part and otherwise related. Moreover they are likely to travel in the same channels of trade to ordinary consumers.
The marks: The Board found the marks to be similar in sound, appearance, connotation, and commercial impression. The design in the cited mark merely underscores the literal meaning of SQUEEZE as suggesting freshly squeezed juice. Each mark conveys the impression that the respective goods and services “consist of freshly squeezed fruit juices and involve the service thereof.”
Strength of the cited mark: Based no applicant’s third-party registration evidence, the Board found the term SQUEEZE to be weak and entitled to a narrow scope of protection. Even without evidence of actual use, “third-party registrations may be relevant to show that a mark or a portion of a mark is descriptive, suggestive, or so commonly used in a particular industry that the public will look to other elements to distinguish the source of the goods and services. Juice Generation, Inc. v. GS Enters. LLC, 794 F.3d 1334, 115 USPQ2d 1671, 1675 (Fed. Cir. 2015).”
Applicant submitted 12 third-party registration for fruit juices and related services (e.g., HAPPY SQUEEZE, KARMIC SQUEEZE, NATURE’S SQUEEZE), all owned by different entities.
The number of third-party registered marks all owned by different entities indicates that SQUEEZE is highly suggestive as applied to fruit juices, smoothies, juice bar services and cafe services. We can surmise that the word “squeeze” in this context alludes to freshly squeezed juices, smoothies made with this ingredient, or services offering freshly squeezed juice or smoothies.
The Board found that SQUEEZE is “so highly suggestive of juice, smoothies, juice bars, and cafes that the public will look to other elements to distinguish the source of the goods and services,” and that “consumers are conditioned to look for differences between SQUEEZE and SQUEEZE formative marks to determine the source of a given product and therefore less likely to be confused.”
Conclusion: The Board found no likelihood of confusion, and so it reversed the refusal.
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TTABlog comment: In Juice Generation there were 26 third-party uses or registrations of marks containing the phrase PEACE AND LOVE, and in Jack Wolfskin, there were 16 paw print designs. Here, in light of the descriptive nature of SQUEEZE, 12 registrations sufficed.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2018.