The USPTO refused registration of the mark INDI for various clothing items, including shirts and headwear, finding the mark likely to cause confusion with the registered mark INDY for “t-shirts” and “hats.” The goods are, in part, legally identical, but what about the marks? How do you think this came out? In re Strong Current, Ltd., Serial No. 86440263 (June 16, 2016) [not precedential].  

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The Examining attorney relied on the similarity of the marks in sound and appearance. Applicant conceded that the marks are likely to be pronounced identically and look similar. The Board agreed.

The Board, however, found pivotal the differences in connotation and commercial impression. The primary meanings of INDY are (1) “a form of auto racing” involving a banked, regular, typically oval track, and (2) a nickname for the city of Indianapolis. The mark INDI, with its fanciful spelling, has no such significance. Consequently, consumers are unlikely to assume that the involved goods come from the same source.

And so the Board reversed the refusal.