TTAB Rules On Cigars And Alcohol As Being “Complimentary” Products Likely To Cause Consumer Confusion

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has ruled that a Ternura brand of cigars is confusingly similar to Ternura tequila, dubbing the two types of product as “complementary” and linked in the minds of consumers, according to Law360.

The board affirmed a decision to refuse registration of “Ternura” as a trademark for cigars, citing an existing registration for tequila held by a California company called Don Francisco Spirits LLC. The board reasoned that because alcohol and tobacco are commonly sold by the same entity and they are complementary products marketed together for simultaneous consumption with identical trademarks, the marks were confusingly similar. “Whiskey and cigars are closely related in distribution and use,” the Fifth Circuit wrote. “Hotels, restaurants and bars supply cigars as well as whiskey to their guests and customers. People frequently smoke cigars while drinking whiskey.” The boards ruling signals a broadening of the channels of trade and streams of commerce one must evaluate in determining the strength of a trademark.  The case is:  In re El Galan Inc., case number 86961428, in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

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