Domaines Pinnacle, a Canadian corporation and producer of alcoholic ice apple wines, filed in application in the PTO seeking to register the mark DOMAINE PINNACLE for “apple juices and apple-based non-alcoholic beverages.”  Franciscan opposed the registration alleging likelihood of confusion with Franciscan’s registered marks PINNACLES for “wine” and PINNACLES RANCHES for “wines.”

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found the lack of evidence showing a relatedness of the goods outweighed the similarities in the marks, trade channels and conditions under which and the buyers to whom sales are made, and dismissed the opposition.

On appeal to the Federal Circuit, Franciscan argued the Board overlooked evidence that Franciscan’s wines and Domaines Pinnacle’s “apple juices and apple-based non-alcoholic beverages” were related goods.  Specifically, Franciscan argued that the Board failed to follow In re Jakob Demmer KG in which the Board found that wines and non-alcoholic beverages were related goods.

The Federal Circuit found the Board did not err in determining Franciscan failed to prove a likelihood of confusion.  Franciscan presented testimony to the Board that the parties were competitors in Canada and that Franciscan’s parent company owned three Canadian companies that sold wines and ciders.  The Federal Circuit found the Board correctly noted that this evidence is insufficient to show the parties’goods are related or marketed in such a way that they would likely be seen by the same persons under circumstances that could create confusion. 

As to the ruling in Jakob Demmer that wines and non-alcoholic beverages were related goods, the Federal Circuit agreed with the Board that the ruling in that case did not control.  Jakob Demmer involved an ex parteappeal in which the Board generally adopts a “more permissive stance with respect to the admissibility and probative value of evidence” than it does in an inter partes proceeding. 

In re Franciscan Vineyards, Inc., Case no. 14-1269 (United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit,December 9, 2014) [nonprecedential].