On March 24, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued
an important decision in B&B Hardware, Inc. v.
Hargis Industries, Inc., No. 13-352 (Mar. 24, 2015),
holding that a "likelihood of confusion" decision by the Trademark
Trial and Appeal Board ("TTAB" or "Board") is binding in a
subsequent trademark infringement lawsuit if the ordinary elements
of issue preclusion are met and the usages of the mark adjudicated
by the TTAB are materially the same as those before the federal
court. Although the Court was careful to limit its ruling and
noted that issue preclusion would not apply to "a great many [TTAB]
registration decisions," the opinion has potentially significant
implications for a subset of trademark infringement actions, and it
is likely to increase the importance of both TTAB proceedings and
judicial review of TTAB decisions.