StonCor Group opposed registration of the mark ARMORSTONE, asserting likelihood of confusion with StonCor’s registered mark STONSHIELD. The Board dismissed the opposition finding no likelihood of confusion. StonCor appealed to the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit ruled that although the Board erred in part of its analysis, the error was harmless because the dismissal was supported by substantial evidence and in accordance with the law, and thus, affirmed the ruling.
The Board found that the spelling of “STON” dictated that the “o” would be pronounced with a short vowel sound, as in the word “on.” Based on this pronunciation, the Board found there was a dissimilarity in pronunciation between STONSHIELD and ARMORSTONE. The Board gave little weight to StonCor’s evidence that suggested consumers would pronounce “STON” as “stone.” The Federal Circuit found the Board’s pronunciation analysis was not supported by substantial evidence. There is no correct pronunciation of a trademark that is not a recognized word. When a trademark is not a recognized word, and the weight of the evidence supports a finding for a particular pronunciation, the Court held it is error for the Board to ignore that evidence entirely and supply its own pronunciation.
Stoncor Group, Inc. v. Specialty Coatings, Inc. 2013-1448, Opposition No. 91187787 (July 16, 2014, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit).