How to Register a Trademark: What goods and services are related or unrelated?

What is the meaning of related goods and services?

Likelihood of confusion is one of the biggest obstacles to registering trademarks. In comparing trademarks, examiners will frequently reject one mark for being confusable with another mark even though the respective goods or services appear quite different. The common rationale in a typical Office Action Section 2(d) rejection is that the applicant’s goods or services are related to those of a cited registered trademark. How can you reduce this risk?

Need to register your trademark or overcome an Office Action rejection? Contact US patent and trademark attorney Vic Lin at (949) 223-9623 or email to explore how we can help you get your trademark registered.

What are examples of related goods and services?

I have good news and bad news, but mostly bad news. Nowadays, it seems like everything is related. Some of the examples below seem more obvious than others. Here is a list of USPTO trademark filings where particular goods or services were found to be related:

What are examples of unrelated products?

Now for some good news. While it appears infrequently these days, it is refreshing to see examples where the USPTO found certain goods or services to be unrelated. Here is a list of USPTO trademark filings where certain goods or services were determined to be unrelated:

Likelihood of confusion or possibility of confusion?

Based on the above results, it can seem random as to whether the USPTO will find your goods to be related to a product or service that most people in the real world would consider unrelated. Some connections are more predictable (e.g., food and restaurant).

Others are less obvious. In the real world, would anyone find coffee related to an alcoholic beverage? Those are two different drinks serving diametrically opposite purposes (at least that is what it seems to me). The standard of likelihood of confusion appears to be replaced by the possibility of confusion.

For what it’s worth, the above examples of relatedness are at least instructive. If you plan on applying for a mark for candy, for example, recognize that similar marks for nuts might block your application.

Broad or specific identification of goods and services?

Whether goods are related or unrelated can seem rather random. But, one thing is certain. Careful thought should be given to your goods and services before drafting the identification. There are times to go broad and times to go narrow. Crafting a balanced scope of goods requires strategy.

File multiple trademark applications in series or parallel?

Sometimes it may make sense to file separate applications for the same mark, with each application covering different goods or services. Some strategic planning should be given to whether multiple applications would make sense. If so, should you file them in parallel or in series? Does it make sense to wait for the allowance of one trademark application before filing another?

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