Conflicting Marks Law and Legal Definition

A mark that is confusingly similar that it closely resembles a registered trademark is a conflicting mark. Such a mark is likely to confuse consumers about the source of the product or service. Pursuant to 15 USCS § 1052, registration of a trademark can be refused because it is likely to conflict with a mark or marks already registered or pending before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices (USPTO). When a trademark application is filed, the assigned examining attorney will search the USPTO records to determine if such a conflict exists between the mark in the application and another mark that is registered or pending before the USPTO. The principal factors considered by the examining attorney in determining whether there is a likelihood of confusion are :

  • the similarity of the marks, and
  • the commercial relationship between the goods or services listed in the application.

Conflicting marks need not be identical, and the goods and/or services do not have to be the same. Even if the marks are similar and the goods and/or services related the mark can be considered as a conflicting mark. If a conflict exists between a mark in an application and a registered mark, the examining attorney will refuse registration on the ground of likelihood of confusion. If a conflict exists between a mark in an application and a mark in a pending application that was filed before, the examining attorney will notify the potential conflict and suspend action on the latter application. If the earlier-filed application is registered, the examining attorney can refuse registration of the mark on the ground of likelihood of confusion.