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The uses and registrations by third parties show the weakness of the cited brand ASCENT; TTAB cancels ASCENT FEDERAL CREDIT UNION’s 2 (d) refusal – Intellectual property

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The Commission overturned a refusal of Article 2 (d) of ASCENT FEDERAL CREDIT FUND for ‘Credit union services, namely, providing checking and savings accounts, mortgages, savings and loan services, bill payment, financing, automated teller machine banking, accounts personal pensions, payroll tax collection and electronic banking services via the global computer network, excluding leasing for private student loans ” [FEDERAL CREDIT UNION disclaimed], considering that there is no risk of confusion with the registered mark ASCENSION(Stylized) to “provide lease financing for private student loans”. Claimant Weber State has successfully relied on evidence of third-party use and registration to claim that ASCENT is a low source indicator in banking and financial services. In re Weber State Federal Credit Union, Serial number 88675314 (September 14, 2021) [not precedential](Opinion of Judge Robert H. Coggins).

Services: Since the services mentioned in the recording are ambiguous (location?), The Commission has considered extrinsic evidence regarding the services. The registrant’s website indicated that the registrant is in fact offering student loans.

The Council then concluded that the services concerned are linked. “Indeed, without the language of exclusion in the identification of the services by the applicant, the“ loan ”and“ financing ”services in the broad sense of the applicant would necessarily include the student loans offered by the holder. In addition, the third party website and registration evidence showed that credit unions offer student loans.

Weber State argued that the examining attorney ignored the exclusion of “leasing of student loan services” from his service recitation. The Commission observed, however, that consumers are not aware of this limitation in the application and that it “does not monitor public perception”.

The plaintiff further argued that its consumers exercise a high degree of prudence in their purchasing decisions, but there was no supporting evidence. In addition, members of credit unions are part of the general population. “Even assuming that current or potential students looking to borrow money for school would exercise caution in obtaining student loans, there is no evidence that checking or savings account holders are that is, the clients of the applicant, are particularly discriminatory. “

And so, the Council concluded that “the services are linked, travel in the same commercial channels and are offered to the same clients who perform only ordinary care”.

Strength of the quoted brand: In support of its argument that ASCENT is a weak mark, the applicant relied on 15 examples of use by third parties on the Internet of marks containing ASCENT to advertise banking and financial services on the Internet, as well as on 12 use-based third party registrations for trademarks that include the word ASCENT for various financial services in class 36.

The Commission found that the services “offered and registered by third parties under the ASCENT training marks are similar to the holder’s student loan services, so we can consider these third-party marks under the fifth and sixth DuPont factors”. It concluded that the evidence “establishes that the formative ASCENT marks are both conceptually and commercially weak and, therefore, are entitled to a narrow scope of protection”.

Additionally, in terms of conceptual strength, the use of ASCENT by different financial service providers “indicates that ASCENT in this context suggests increasing, increasing or advancing its financial goals.”

This is reinforced by the multiple marks of the ASCENT logo linked to the mountain which also suggest to climb towards its objectives. The dictionary definition of “ascent” further supports the concept of increasing, rising or advancing wealth. Thus, we find that ASCENT formative brands have a conceptual weakness in association with financial services.

As for commercial strength, the evidence was “powerful” that “consumers encountering brands in the financial field have become conditioned to distinguish between brands incorporating ASCENT-forming terms on the basis of minute differences, including the addition of descriptive terms. and generics such as “financial advisers”, “financial network”, “financial management”, “financial strategy”, “treatment”, etc. “

The Commission concluded that the cited mark is in the lower end of the spectrum, from very strong to very weak, and that “minimal differences between the ASCENT formative marks used in association with financial services are sufficient to distinguish them”.

Marks : Finally, as regards the marks, although both contain the word ASCENT, the Commission concluded that, in the light of the evidence on the file, the additional word FEDERAL CREDIT UNION. “Which designates the entity of the applicant”, would allow consumers to distinguish between brands on the basis of this difference.

Conclusion: “ASCENT’s ubiquity in the financial industry and additional wording in the applicant’s mark outweighs the similarities between services, business channels and consumers.” And so, the Council overturned the refusal of registration.

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TTABlogger comment: Should ASCENT have been registered in the first place?

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