Category Archives: USPTO

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Proud to Be an American, God Bless The USA, But Not Functioning as A Trademark

In a precedential decision, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) affirmed the refusal to register the trademark GOD BLESS THE USA for home decor items on the ground that it failed to function as a trademark.[1] Additionally, the Board affirmed the Trademark Examining Attorney’s refusal to accept … Continue Reading

Slogans As Marks: When Does a Slogan Function as a Mark

Slogans can, but do not always, function as trademarks. To be sure, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) frequently allows slogans such as JUST DO IT! or QUALITY THROUGH CRAFTSMANSHIP, among many others, to be registered as trademarks. However, the USPTO’s recent trend has been to deny registration to slogans on the ground … Continue Reading

Genericness is in the Eye of the Beholder, i.e., the Public: BOOKING.COM is a Protectable Trademark

On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court (the “Court”), in an 8-1 decision, affirmed the Fourth Circuit’s holding that “BOOKING.COM” is a protectable trademark, thereby rejecting a sweeping rule that a protectable trademark cannot be created by adding “.com” to an otherwise generic term.… Continue Reading

The Parameters of Generic Marks: Booking.com before the Supreme Court

The Lanham Act (“Act”) makes it clear that generic terms cannot be registered as trademarks. But can an online business create a protectable trademark by adding a generic top-level domain (e.g., “.com”) to an otherwise generic term? The Supreme Court will answer this question in USPTO v. Booking.com, No. 19-46. The legal battle between Booking.com … Continue Reading

2(b) Prohibition On “Flag Marks” Bars Use of Flag as Part of a Mark

In a recent precedential decision concerning the rarely litigated or cited Section 2(b) of the Lanham Act, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board affirmed a refusal to register the service mark: for tourism services on the ground that the mark includes a simulation of the American flag. In re Alabama Tourism Department, Serial No. 87599292 … Continue Reading

Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Impact Your Ability to Secure an “Incontestable” Trademark?

Section 15 of the Lanham Act, subject to certain specified exceptions, provides that the right of an owner “to use [a] registered mark in commerce for the goods or services on or in connection with which such registered mark has been in continuous use for five consecutive years subsequent to the date of such registration and is … Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Colors Outside the Lines with a New Shade of Multi-Color Trademarks Protectability

On April 8, 2020, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Federal Circuit”), in In Re Forney Industries Inc reversed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) and held that multicolor designs may be inherently distinctive when used on product packaging. The court further held that multicolor designs need not be used within a well-defined … Continue Reading

The Joint is Just a Music Joint, Not a Trademark

  The Federal Circuit in In re JC Hospitality LLC recently affirmed the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s refusal to register the service mark THE JOINT for a venue offering entertainment and restaurant services. The Circuit affirmed the Board’s unusually high evidentiary standards for demonstrating that a trademark has … Continue Reading

Unitary Design Mark Rescues a Phrase Which Failed To Function As A Trademark

In a recent decision on remand from the Federal Circuit, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) rejected Petitioner adidas AG’s (“adidas”) claim that Respondent Christian Faith Fellowship Church (“CFFC”) abandoned its ADD A ZERO marks (both in standard character and design form), but agreed that the phrase, as used by CFFC in standard characters, … Continue Reading

Foreign Equivalents: Ricardo and Richard

In a precedential decision involving the “doctrine of foreign equivalents,” the Board found no likelihood of confusion between the mark RICHARD MAGAZINE for a website in the field of fashion and lifestyle and the mark RICARDO for goods and services, including publications, in the culinary field.  Ricardo Media Inc. v. Inventive Software, LLC, Opposition No. … Continue Reading

Cannabis Trademarks Redux

In a case affecting the fast-growing legal cannabis industry, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB” or “Board”) affirmed the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (“USPTO”) refusal to register two trademarks for smokeless cannabis vaporizers because the goods were seen as unlawful drug paraphernalia under federal law.  In re Canopy Growth Corporation by assignment … Continue Reading

APOGEE at its Nadir for Louis Vuitton at Federal Circuit

The Federal Circuit recently sustained the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (“TTAB” or the “Board”)  refusal to register Louis Vuitton Malletier’s (“LVM”) trademark APOGÉE for perfumes, a decision that will concern trademark prosecution attorneys who seek to distinguish trademarks in United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) likelihood of confusion refusals.… Continue Reading

Hashtag Is Not Enough to Save Another will.i.am Trademark Application

William Adams is a musical performer who is more famously known by his stage name, will.i.am. A recent ruling from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, unfortunately makes him a two-time loser at the USPTO. The case, In re i.am.symbolic, llc, Serial No. 85916778 (TTAB, August 8, 2018) (precedential), … Continue Reading

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority Pays a Big Toll for Pizza

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority (“NJTA”) was forced to pay a big toll when the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”), dismissed its opposition to a pizza restaurant’s applied-for homage to the famous route to the Jersey shore.  In New Jersey Turnpike Authority v. Jersey Boardwalk Franchising Co., … Continue Reading

TTAB Guidance on Disclaimers and Acquired Distinctiveness: “Furniture Warehouse” Must Be Disclaimed, But “American” Need Not

In a precedential decision, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB” or the “Board”) affirmed a refusal to register the logo: absent a disclaimer of the term “AMERICAN FURNITURE WAREHOUSE.” However, the Board also held that the phrase can acquire distinctiveness as a part of the overall trademark. In … Continue Reading

Tam Extended: Prohibition of “Immoral and Scandalous” Trademarks Unconstitutional

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently extended First Amendment protections for trademark applications in In re Brunetti, No. 15-1109 (Fed. Cir. December 15, 2017), ruling that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act’s prohibition against registration of “immoral and scandalous” matter violated free speech protections. This ruling comes as no surprise, in light … Continue Reading

Supreme Court: Disparaging Speech Protected By First Amendment; Lanham Act Section 2(a) Unconstitutional: A Win for the Slants and the Skins

In a unanimous (albeit fractured) decision written by Justice Alito, the United States Supreme struck down a provision of the Lanham (Trademark) Act barring registration of “disparaging” trademarks, handing a victory to Asian-American rock band The Slants. In Matal v. Tam, No. 15-1293 (June 19, 2017), the Court held that the Lanham Act’s prohibition on … Continue Reading

Making United States Consumer Safer For Tequila?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) recently dismissed Luxco, Inc.’s (“Luxco”) opposition to registration of the mark TEQUILA (in standard character format) by an official Mexican regulator as a certification mark for “distilled spirits, namely, spirits distilled from the blue tequilana weber variety of agave plant.” Luxco, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Grants Cert. in USPTO Appeal of Slants Decision: Whether The Ban On Offensive Trademarks Violates The First Amendment

The Supreme Court granted the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s petition for certiorari in In re Tam, 117 USPQ2d 1101 (Fed. Cir. 2016), discussed here and here. In that case, the USPTO denied registration of an application to register the trademark THE SLANTS for a rock/dance on the grounds that it was offensive to … Continue Reading

Generic Churrascos at the Federal Circuit

The Federal Circuit recently provided additional guidance concerning whether an applied-for mark is generic in In re Cordua Restaurants, Inc., (May 13, 2016).  This case stemmed from the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to register the trademark CHURRASCOS (Stylized) in connection with “bar and restaurant services; catering.”  Applicant Cordua Restaurants, LP (“Cordua”) has … Continue Reading

USPTO Drops 11th Circuit Appeal of ND Alabama Order In Houndstooth Case

We previously blogged ([here]) on Judge Proctor’s (ND Ala.) order directing the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “Board”) to comply with the Court’s prior order, approving a settlement agreement between the University of Alabama and trademark applicant Mafia Enterprises LLC, which included vacating a prior Board decision that had been appealed to the District … Continue Reading
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