For registration purposes, are certain trademarks considered the same if they sound similar but look entirely different?
When considering marks for registration, and analyzing one mark against another, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) takes into consideration whether a proposed mark is confusingly similar to another already existing mark. In the case of similar sounding, but different appearing marks, the USPTO will concentrate on the oral pronunciation of the mark rather than the appearance. That is, if the goods and services provided by the marks in question are mostly purchased, ordered or referred to orally, then the USPTO might find them confusingly similar. If the marks are best represented through their visual representation, or in other terms, if they can visually distinguish the goods or services they represent, then the oral pronunciation of the marks may play a less important role and might be considered not confusingly similar.
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Dr. Thomas R. (Terry) Williamson III is a Patent Attorney practicing in Atlanta, Georgia.
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