Friday, January 25, 2008

When Applications Go Wrong

Elaborating further from this post, let's take a look at an incorrectly filed application, which will show why correct application preparations are so advantageous to applicants.

On January 17th, The TNG Group submitted an application for La Bella Belly Maternity. You can view the record here.

Mistake #1

Comprehensive Research Appears to Have Been Skipped

A quick search for La Bella for clothing wielded no results - that's good. However, a quick search for Bella for clothing did show two registered marks, both Bella & both owned by Color Image Apparel, Inc. The records can be viewed here and here.

Now La Bella Belly Maternity and the logo may be distinctive enough to bypass a refusal from the USPTO. Only time will tell...

Mistake #2

Goods Description

The application is filed for International Class (IC thereafter) 25, namely, "Maternity Apparel, Accessories and Spa Services" & there are a couple of mistakes going on here:

a) There are 2, if not 3, different classes listed here.

Clothing or apparel is in IC 25, so that's correct.

The word accessories is vague & the applicant could mean anything from belts or scarves(IC 25) to purses or diaper bags(IC 18) to, given the customer, baby bottles or pacifiers (IC 10).

Spa services could either be in IC 43 (Spa services, namely, providing temporary accommodations and meals to clients of a health or beauty spa) OR in IC 44 (Day spa services, namely, nail care, manicures, pedicures and nail enhancements -- to name one).

La Bella Belly has only paid for 1 classification, which means if they want to pursue those other classes, an additional $325 per class must be paid to the USPTO.

b) The actual descriptions are incorrect:

"Maternity apparel" should be written as, for example, "maternity clothing, namely, shirts, shorts, pants, [and on & on with ALL of the items within the line]..."

The USPTO does not like words like accessories, products, etc. The applicant will have to be specific.

Since spa services can fit into 2 different classes (see above), further information will be needed.

Mistake #3

Description of Mark

While the description on the application ("The mark consists of La Bella Belly is green. Maternity is also green. Logo (pregnant lady) is also green. Green used for all words and Logo is R 138 Hue 90 G 219 Sat 127 B 158 Lum 168") makes sense to the applicant, it's not what the USPTO is looking for for that section.

A more appropriate description would be: "Stylized lettering of La Bella Belly Maternity displayed in green and appearing to the left of a shadow/silhouette of a pregnant woman, which is also displayed in green."

That description provides a visual image of what the mark looks like, which is what the USPTO requires.

Mistake #4

The specimen provided by the applicant is appropriate for the spa services but not for the other classifications, which means if the clothing & whatever the accessories end up being are pursued, new specimens will have to be submitted.

Now the last 3 mistakes can easily be corrected & it's my guess that the USPTO will be sending out an office action to the applicant in the next coming months requesting these changes. What this means is adding on even more time to the year it already takes the USPTO to grant registration. The similar marks, for clothing, may present more of a hiccup to the applicant.

I hope this post & Friday's post have really shown how important comprehensive research & correct application preparation is to each & every applicant. Given that about 1000 applications are filed every day, please be sure to have your work done right the first time.

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