July 2, 2014
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. B&B Hardware had filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against Hargis Industries for trademark infringement following a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruling that Hargis Industries’ trademark application for the mark SEALTITE infringed B&B’s rights in the mark SEALTIGHT. That prior TTAB decision sustained B&B’s opposition to the attempted registration of SEALTITE. The district court, however, found the B&B mark to be merely descriptive and refused to give the TTAB decision deference. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.
B&B Hardware filed the petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of the Eighth Circuit’s ruling. The questions presented before the Supreme Court are (1) whether or not a TTAB decision creates an issue preclusive effect on subsequent federal court litigation, and (2) whether, if issue preclusion does not apply, federal courts are obliged to defer to TTAB findings.
Fitch Even attorneys are monitoring this case and will report once the Supreme Court has issued its decision.
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