Trademark Dispute Taken Up by High Court

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A trademark case involving use of the “tacking” doctrine to establish priority will go before the Supreme Court, the justices said Monday.
     Hana Financial Inc., a California company incorporated in 1994, brought the federal complaint at issue against Korea-based Hana Bank, which was established in 1971 as Korean Investment Finance Corp. In Korean, the word hana means “number one,” “first,” “top,” or “unity,” the 9th Circuit noted in its 2013 ruling on the case.
     Hana Bank tried to cancel Hana Financial’s trademark based on the latter’s alleged awareness of the bank’s superior rights.
     In 2008, a federal judge granted the bank summary judgment on trademark priority but ruled against it on the cancelation counterclaim.
     The 9th Circuit has ruled on this case twice already. In 2010, it reversed on priority and remanded for trial.
     After a trial in 2011, a jury found that Hana Financial’s claims were barred laches, meaning that it unreasonably delayed filing suit, and unclean hands.
     The 9th Circuit affirmed in 2013 after finding that the jury was properly instructed to apply the tacking doctrine, which lets a party “tack” the date of the user’s first use of a mark onto a subsequent mark to establish priority where the two marks are so similar that consumers would generally regard them as being the same.
     The Supreme Court took up the case Monday but followed its custom of not otherwise commenting on the case.

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