Bose Corp., maker of the "Wave" radio, persuaded a federal appeals court to block QSC Audio Products Inc. from registering as a trademark an amplifier system under the "PowerWave" name.
In opposing the Costa Mesa firm's application, Bose said consumers would think the QSC product was made by Bose, which also sells the Acoustic Wave loudspeaker system. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board had rejected Bose's complaint, saying confusion was unlikely.
Reversing the board's ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the Wave name should be given added protection under trademark laws, because it's famous even when not directly linked to the Bose name.
"We're going to evaluate what our options are," said John Andrews, chief operating officer of QSC. "We don't have any intention of stopping use of the mark."
Bose lawyer Charles Hieken, of Fish & Richardson in Boston, said the company might ask a court to order QSC to stop using the name.
QSC has been using the name PowerWave since 1994, and "there's never been one instance of confusion that we've seen or that Bose submitted" before the trademark board, Andrews said. The PowerWave name has a trademark registration in California, he said.
The Wave radios, selling for $300 to $500 each, have annual sales of about $100 million, according to court papers filed by Bose, based in Framingham, Mass. The Acoustic Wave, selling for about $1,000 each, generates about $50 million in annual sales.
PowerWave is a patented system that improves amplifiers while making them more compact, the QSC Web site says.