Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents Law and Legal Definition

The doctrine of foreign equivalents is a rule applied in U.S. trademark law which requires courts and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to translate foreign words into English. This is to determine whether they are registrable as trademarks, or confusingly similar with existing marks. Consumers within the U.S. are protected from confusion or deception caused by the use of terms in different languages. A party using a word as a mark which is either generic or merely descriptive of the goods in a foreign language, or which shares the same meaning as an existing mark to speakers of that foreign language can be avoided by application of the doctrine.