March 24, 2015
Today the Supreme Court, in B&B Hardware Inc. v. Hargis Industries Inc. et al., case number 13-352, decided that Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) decisions preclude federal courts from ruling on issues that are “materially the same.” The Supreme Court’s decision could have a significant effect on the way TTAB proceedings are litigated. Until now, parties may have treated TTAB decisions lightly because they knew they had a second opportunity to defend their interests in court. Parties often withheld resources in TTAB proceedings to reflect this reality. Now, the TTAB will be the final arbiter in many trademark cases. As a result, parties will more adamantly defend their interests in TTAB decisions, likely increasing the resources they put toward that effort as a result of this new reality. Accordingly, the Supreme Court’s B&B decision could turn TTAB proceedings into “mini trials.”

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