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B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. – U.S. Supreme Court Holds TTAB Decisions Can Have Preclusive Effect on District Courts

On March 24, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the case of B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., Inc. B&B Hardware owned the federally registered trademark SEALTIGHT for use in connection with fasteners and related hardware in the aerospace industry. Hargis filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to register SEALTITE for use in connection with fasteners and related hardware in the construction trade. B&B opposed Hargis’ registration and the two parties began litigating the matter before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”). While the TTAB proceeding was ongoing, B&B also filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Hargis in federal court. In both the TTAB proceeding and the district court case, the primary issue was whether a likelihood of confusion exists between B&B’s SEALTIGHT mark and Hargis’ SEALTITE mark.