Kia’s application to register the mark for automobiles was rejected based on likelihood of confusion with the earlier mark K-9 CAR ALARM for car alarm systems.

The Board ruled that the marks are highly similar and the goods are complementary in that car alarm systems are used as part of automobiles.  The Board acknowledged that manufacturers and sellers of car alarms may not necessarily make and/or sell automobiles; however, third-party registrations submitted by the Examining Attorney indicated that companies that manufacture and/or sell automobiles may also offer accessories, such as car alarms, under the same mark.  “As a result, there may be reverse confusion in the present situation if automobiles and car alarms were sold under confusingly similar marks, with consumers purchasing a car alarm under the mistaken belief that it emanates from or is authorized by the same source as their automobile.  Or a consumer might not purchase a car alarm if he thought that the car alarm was designed only for a particular manufacturer’s automobiles.” 

The Board found that the words “CAR ALARM” in the earlier mark was generic.  Therefore,  K9, the only distinctive portion of the mark, was virtually identical to the K-9 portion of Kia’s mark.  The Applicant argued that K9 in its mark gives the impression the product is one in the line of KIA automobiles, subsequent in line to its KIA K7 automobile.  KIA, however, did not submit any evidence to show that it offers a K7 automobile, let alone that consumers would recognize K9 in its mark as referencing other models or trademarks. 

In re Kia Motors Corporation, Serial No. 85769874 (TTAB, July 24, 2014) [not precedential]