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(Reuters) – General Motors LLC on Tuesday pushed back a challenge by computer component maker Micro Mobio Corp to the “Super Cruise” brand that GM uses for its semi-autonomous vehicle technology.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit find that companies’ products differ sufficiently that consumers are not likely to be confused by nearly identical brands.
GM spokesman Darryll Harrison said the company was happy with the move. GM attorney Dennis Abdelnour of Honigman declined to comment, and Micro Mobio and his attorney Christopher Horgan of Roark IP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Micro Mobio, based in Palo Alto, Calif., Sells semiconductors for wireless devices that use “SuperCruise” connectivity technology. He asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2018 to revoke Detroit-based GM’s federal “Super Cruise” mark, arguing that the nearly identical name was likely to cause confusion.
The PTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled for GM last year, finding confusion was unlikely because the companies’ products are unrelated and their customer bases do not overlap, among other things.
Micro Mobio disputed several aspects of the decision on appeal, arguing the products were similar because GM’s Super Cruise technology uses products like Micro Mobio’s to work and the board underestimated the strength of its brand.
In Tuesday’s ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge William Bryson, joined by Chief Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore and Circuit Judge Sharon Prost, found “no merit in any of Micro Mobio’s factual or legal challenges.” .
The assets of the companies are unrelated, the appeals court said. Bryson said that when the brands are the same, the relevant question is whether the products could be encountered by the same buyers “in circumstances which could give rise to the mistaken belief that the products are from a common source”, and that Micro Mobio did not meet this standard here.
The parties’ customer bases also do not overlap, and the court rejected Micro Mobio’s arguments that its products were related because GM’s Super Cruise “contains and depends on hardware and software” like Micro’s. Mobio.
“The fact that goods such as the computer components that Micro Mobio sells end up in products of all kinds, such as washing machines, watches, toys and medical instruments, does not mean that the computer components of all types are complementary products to each of these devices for trademark law purposes, ”Bryson said.
The Federal Circuit also rejected Micro Mobio’s argument that its brand was arbitrary, did not refer to its products and therefore was entitled to stronger protection.
Micro Mobio said its executives chose the name “SuperCruise” simply because they liked the sound. But Bryson agreed with the board that the name suggested the technology’s ability to “facilitate extremely fast and smooth reception and transfer of signals,” regardless of the reason the company chose it.
Ford had argued earlier this year in a separate case that GM’s “Super Cruise” brand was generic, in a trademark dispute that the two US auto giants have since agreed to settle.
The case is Micro Mobio Corp v General Motors LLC, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 21-1591.
For Micro Mobio: Christopher Horgan of Roark IP
For the Managing Director: Dennis Abdelnour de Honigman
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