Breaking News – Supreme Court Finds That TTAB Decisions Can Have Preclusive Effect

One issue that has generated much commentary and controversy in the trademark litigation field is whether decisions of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) can/should be given issue preclusion (collateral estoppel to us old timers).  This morning, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., where the Supreme Court found that TTAB decisions can be the basis for issue preclusion so long as the requirements for issue preclusion are met.

This is a significant decision with substantial implications not only for future trademark litigation matters where there has been prior TTAB litigation but also for decisions whether to seek registration for a particular trademark.  Most significantly (as was the situation in the B&B Hardware case), a party who is denied trademark registration because of the likelihood of confusion with another mark may be precluded from challenging the likelihood of confusion finding in subsequent trademark infringement litigation.

A copy of the B&B Hardware decision can be found here:  http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-352_c0n2.pdf

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