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Trademark law prohibits businesses from using marks which are likely to confuse a reasonable consumer. Trademark registration may be refused if customers who uses an ordinary amount of care in selecting products:
For example a reasonably careful consumer might buy a can of Gold Coffee when intending to buy your product, Golden Coffee. Therefore the mark Gold Coffee would be considered to conflict with your mark.
Likewise, a reasonably careful consumer might buy a box of Golden Coffee Filters under the impression that they come from the same company as Golden Coffee. Again, this likelihood of confusion constitutes a conflict.
Reasonable likelihood of confusion is very difficult to determine. The USPTO offers some guidance on likelihood of confusion and preventing confusion.
Trademarks are registered in one or more specific classes of goods and services. Similar marks in different classes are usually not in conflict with each other, with one exception: similar marks for similar products which are sold in the same marketing channels may be in conflict even if they are registered in different classes. If two products could be sold in the same department of a department store, or advertised in the same registered in different classes, they may still conflict. More information: "Goods and Services."
Likelihood of confusion applies to:
When the goods and/or services are not the same, the confusion arises from the consumer's mistaken belief that the same source (company) provides both the goods and/or the services.
Trademark protection is granted for the goods or services listed in the registration. Therefore, even if you know for a fact that a registrant only operates Mexican restaurants, if the registration states "restaurant services" then trademark protection is extended to all kinds of restaurants.