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Snap can take USPTO to trial in 'Spectacles' trademark fight, court says

Post Time:2024-03-05 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

March 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office must face a trial over its denial of a federal trademark for Snap's (SNAP.N), "Spectacles" augmented-reality glasses, a federal judge in California said on Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim rejected the USPTO's request to find that the term cannot receive trademark protection, citing competing evidence from both sides that precluded him from making a decision before trial.

Spokespeople for Snap and the USPTO did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision. A non-jury trial in the case is scheduled to begin on March 12.

Santa Monica, California-based Snap, best known as the maker of the Snapchat video app, introduced its Spectacles in 2016. The devices allow users to capture and automatically upload content to Snapchat.

The USPTO rejected Snap's trademark application for the name in 2020, finding it trademark-ineligible because it was either generic or descriptive.

A USPTO tribunal affirmed the decision later that year. Snap asked the California court in 2022 to force the USPTO to grant the trademark, and said that potential buyers think of "Spectacles" as a Snap brand instead of a generic term for smart glasses.

The USPTO asked the court last year to grant it a win without a trial.

"The undisputed evidence, including dictionary definitions, Snap's own marketing, and a consumer survey, demonstrates that the relevant public understands the word 'spectacles' to be generic because 'spectacles' is synonymous with glasses, and smart glasses like Snap's look and wear just like glasses," the office said.

Kim denied the USPTO's request on Monday, poking holes in the agency's "instrumental" argument that the field of smart glasses "categorically encompasses all eyeglasses."

"Not all eyeglasses contain computer hardware, and not all computer wearables are produced in the form of eyeglasses," Kim said.