From time to time, we run into proposed trademarks that are in another language. This generally starts a conversation about the doctrine of foreign equivalents. The doctrine of foreign equivalents requires that foreign words be translated into English to determine if there is a likelihood of consumer confusion with a mark already registered or to determine if the applied-for mark is descriptive or generic. When applicants apply for a mark in a different language, they are expected to provide the translation of the mark or else the examining attorney will seek the relevance of the applied-for mark.
There is often question about when the doctrine is applied. It’s applied when the “ordinary American purchaser” would “stop and translate” the foreign wording in a mark. That isn’t terribly helpful on its own. It has been clarified that the “ordinary American purchaser” isn’t the average American, but rather is […]