(CN) – Consumer electronics noisemaker Bose Corp. did not intend to deceive the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when it renewed its registration for a line of audio tape players and recorders no longer in production, the Federal Circuit found.
Bose stopped making Wave tape players and recorders between 1996 and 1997, but Bose’s general counsel, Mark Sullivan, thought the products were still in use when he signed the renewal application, the ruling states.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found Bose guilty of fraud and canceled the trademark registration, saying Sullivan had signed the renewal knowing that the trademark was no longer in use. But the appellate panel in Washington, D.C., found no intent to deceive, a requirement for trademark fraud.
When Sullivan signed the trademark renewal application, he believed that the company’s repair and shipment of damaged Wave audio products met the “use in commerce” requirement of the renewal application, the three-judge panel ruled.
Judge Michel, writing for the panel, said the board’s fraud finding went against the governing statute and case law, and lowered the fraud standard to one of “simple negligence.”
Though the board erred in canceling the mark in its entirety, the trademark registration still needs an adjustment, the ruling states.
“[T]he registration needs to be restricted to reflect the commercial reality” that the audio players are no longer being made, Michel wrote.
The appellate panel sent the case back to the board to determine the future of the trademark.