Fabric from which clothes are made can be related to actual clothing items for the likelihood of confusion analysis.

The Applicant filed for MARSHLAND for FABRIC sold as an integral component of finished clothing items. The TTAB refused registration based on MARSHLANDER for rain coats and other rain resistant clothing items.

This decision confirms that a unique relationship exists in the clothing industry between goods used in making a product and the product itself.

In industries unrelated to clothes/apparel, this holding could very well be reversed. For example, I have had great success arguing that individual ingredients acquired by a food manufacturer are sufficiently unrelated to the final food product sold at retail to consumers. This is so because manufacturers purchasing ingredients operate in a sufficiently separated channel of trade than retail consumers. Also, food manufacturers tend to be sophisticated purchasers who are likely aware of the importance of the quality of each ingredient, while the end consumers of food products tend to be less sophisticated.

In contrast, in the clothing industry, trademarks are often created for fabric. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is GORE-TEX. When I purchased my rain proof hard shell jacket and my water proofed hiking boots, among the many tags attached to the products were a GORE-TEX tag informing the consumer that a water resistant fabric associated with the GORE-TEX trademark had been incorporated into the end product. Indeed, I look for this tag to ensure that the product contains a feature I require.

Therefore, at least in the clothing industry, because the end consumers are exposed to trademarks associated with fabrics from which clothing items are made, the fabrics are deemed related to the end product.

Image Courtesy of: Yaskll Used under Creative Commons license.

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