In short, the answer is yes; however, a seasoned trademark attorney would be the best person to ask regarding your particular situation. That being said, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) routinely rejects trademark registrations based on the “likelihood of confusion” that consumers would face between a prospective trademark and one that is already on file with the USPTO. According to the USPTO, “likelihood of confusion exists between trademarks when the marks are so similar and the goods and/or services for which they are used are so related that consumers would mistakenly believe they come from the same source. Each application is decided on its own facts, and no strict mechanical test exists for determining likelihood of confusion.” Some things to consider regarding “likelihood of confusion”:
- Aside from being rejected for having a similar textual composition to an already-existing trademark, a new registration may fail for also sounding alike, looking similar or creating “the same commercial impression in the consuming public’s mind”
- The USPTO looks at whether a likelihood of confusion would exist as to the source of the goods and/or services rather than whether the actual goods and/or services are likely to be confused
- The USPTO cannot perform pre-application searches or provide advisory opinions regarding registrations (hence the importance of an attorney - see below)
Businesses often seek the assistance of a lawyer to make sure their application gets accepted (which can be a time-consuming process) and to avoid any future potential legal liability.