WASHINGTON (March 22, 2012)—A federal court has reversed an earlier ruling and declared Taiwan-based Federal Corp. violated the “Milanza” trademark of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations L.L.C.
Bridgestone claimed the Milanza tire name was similar enough to cause confusion with its Potenza and Turanza tire models. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismissed Bridgestone's case, ruling that the dissimilarity of the names outweighed Bridgestone's survey evidence of consumer confusion.
In a March 16 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned the board's ruling.
“When the goods are identical, the appearance of a mark of similar sound, appearance or connotation is more likely to cause confusion than if the goods are significantly different,” the court ruled. “Exact identity is not necessary to generate confusion as to source of similarly-marked products.”
Bridgestone issued a statement that it is pleased with the ruling. The Seattle attorney representing Federal Corp. declined to comment, saying he had to contact company officials in Taiwan before making a statement.