Fat Boys Water Sports LLC applied for registration of the mark HOUSEBOAT BLOB for an inflatable floating mattress for recreational use where the “user may be launched into the air and onto a body of water.” Although the applicant disclaimed the right to use BLOB apart from their mark, registration was refused on the bases the mark is merely descriptive and confusingly similar to three earlier registered marks—most importantly, a registration for THE BLOB. THE BLOB registration covers “giant, inflatable, floating air bags, constructed of PVC for use by commercial, institutional, for-profit and not-for-profit youth camps, church camps and other outdoor recreation business as a component of their aquatic recreational facilities.”

On appeal to the TTAB, the Board first considered the refusal on the ground that Applicant’s HOUSEBOAT BLOB mark was merely descriptive of the identified goods. With respect to “BLOB,” The Examining Attorney submitted various sources of evidence showing the term was used to describe aquatic equipment used in camping activities.  In addition, Applicant had disclaimed the word “BLOB” on the ground that it was merely descriptive.   Applicant had also claimed that the word HOUSEBOAT provided “no specific information about the nature of the goods.”  The Board rejected this claim in view of the fact that Applicant’s own marketing materials identified the product as designed for use in houseboats. Thus, when considering the mark as a whole, the Board found it to be merely descriptive because the mark immediately identifies the purpose and nature of the goods—a blob designed for houseboats.

The Board next considered the refusal that Applicant’s mark was confusingly similar to any of the three cited registered trademarks, all of which were owned by the same registrant.  The Board confined its analysis to the likelihood of confusion with the cited mark THE BLOB because that registration covered goods most similar to Applicant’s goods. The Board concluded the two marks were similar in both appearance and sound.  The Board disagreed with Applicant’s argument that THE BLOB is a double-entendre which consumers will associate with the classic movie rather than an inflatable launching pad. The Board found no evidence of such double-entendre.  Finally, the Board found the presence of “THE” in the registered mark did not meaningfully distinguish the two marks.

The description of the goods in the cited THE BLOB registration was relatively narrow; it included the specific types of uses and the material from which the goods were made. Nevertheless, the Board concluded that the goods were almost identical to Applicant’s goods. Both were flotation devices designed to launch individuals into bodies of water. Finally, the Board found the trade channels were legally identical—both goods are “offered to the same classes of customers.”

The Board affirmed the refusal to register the mark HOUSEBOAT BLOB on the ground that it was merely descriptive, and on the ground that it was confusingly similar to the prior registered mark THE BLOB.

In re Fat Boys Water Sports LLC, Serial No. 86490930 (TTAB, April 27, 2016) [precedential].