WASHINGTON (March 23, 2012)—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has reversed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, ruling that the "Milanza" trademark of Taiwan-based Federal Corp. violates the trademark rights of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations L.L.C.
Bridgestone claimed the Milanza tire name was similar enough to cause confusion with its Potenza and Turanza tire models. The Trademark Board dismissed Bridgestone's case, ruling that the dissimilarity of the names outweighed Bridgestone's survey evidence of consumer confusion.
In a March 16 decision, the appeals court overturned the board's ruling. "When the goods are identical, the appearance of a mark of similar sound, appearance or connotation is more likely to cause confusion than if the goods are significantly different," the appeals court ruled. "Exact identity is not necessary to generate confusion as to source of similarly-marked products."
In a statement, Bridgestone said it was very pleased with the appeals court decision.
"BSAM and its parent company Bridgestone Corp. are committed to enforcing their intellectual property rights aagainst imitations and protecting the public from confusion," the company said.
Everett E. Fruehling, the Seattle attorney representing Federal Corp., said he would have to contact company officials in Taiwan for comment.