Skip to main content
Descriptive Trademarks

The title here is a bit misleading as descriptive words are not typically allowed to be registered on the USPTO’s trademark Principal Register. Let’s back up a little...

One of the main points (some would argue THE main point) of having a Federal trademark is to have exclusive rights to a name, a logo or a slogan within your industry. Given that, words that “merely describe” the goods or services are not going to be allowed.


There are two main reasons the USPTO provides:


1) “to prevent the owner of a mark from inhibiting competition in the sale of particular goods”


What this means: The owner of the descriptive word(s) can’t trademark it as it could create a stranglehold, of sorts, on the word(s) within the industry. For instance, the word “trademark” is disclaimed on our Federal trademark registration on
TradeMark Express, meaning we’re not claiming exclusive rights to the word “trademark” as it’s a descriptive word for our industry.

2) “to maintain freedom of the public to use the language involved, thus avoiding the possibility of harassing infringement suits by the registrant against others who use the mark when advertising or describing their own products”

What this means: People should have the freedom to use descriptive words in advertising or in describing their goods/services. Using the example above, other companies offering trademark services should be able to use the word “trademark” to describe their services, in their advertising, etc.


So How do I Know if my Name is Descriptive?


As with anything trademark, it’s never black & white. Each situation is going to vary from the next. The basic litmus test is “does this word describe the product and/or service?” and if the answer is yes, then you’ve most likely got a descriptive name on your hands.

It is not necessary that a term describe all of the purposes, functions, characteristics, or features of a product/service to be considered merely descriptive; it is enough if the term describes one significant function, attribute, or property.

Here are some examples provided by the USPTO:


• APPLE PIE held merely descriptive of potpourri (most likely because the words describe the scent)

• BED & BREAKFAST REGISTRY held merely descriptive of lodging reservations services

• MALE-P.A.P. TEST held merely descriptive of clinical pathological immunoassay testing services for detecting and monitoring prostatic cancer

If you’d like help determining if your name is descriptive, please leave a comment or email me at dc@tmexpress.com

- Mention our blog & receive $25 off of our Premium Package -
- Put BLOG in the Contact Name field -

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trademark International Class: Class 35 (Advertising and Business Services)
All goods or services are categorized within International Classes (IC hereafter). Goods run from classes IC 1-34, while Services are in IC 35-45. Please see a complete chart here. Let's take a closer look at one of these trademark classes – class 35.

What is International Class 35 All About?

Each class has a short title heading that gives a snapshot of what that class is all about -- IC 35's short title is advertising and business services. Pretty vague, eh? The USPTO has 1476 accepted descriptions that fit into IC 35; check them out here.

The first part of IC 35’s description, advertising, is straightforward. If it’s advertising, marketing or promoting services that are being offered, then IC 35 is where it goes. Now there are going to be some exceptions, as with anything related to trademarks.
Tangible advertising goods, such as signs, flyers, brochures, are NOT going to be in IC 35 as those items are n…

Trademark 101: State Trademark or Federal Trademark?

Now that you know what a trademark is, what a trademark isn’t, and that you should get a trademark, let’s explore if a State trademark or Federal trademark is most appropriate for your needs.
For the USA, trademarks can be obtained either at the State level or the Federal level. So, which do you need? I’ll explain both and that’ll give you a clearer picture as where to go from here.
First and foremost, a State trademark gives you trademark protection for that specific state whereas a Federal trademark gives you trademark protection nationwide. Simple enough, yes? But, which is the right trademark for your needs?
1)Are you actively in business? 2)Are you only doing business in one city or county or just statewide?
If you answered yes to both, then exploring a State trademark is your next step. Here are some advantages to a State trademark:
·The right to expand statewide. The name will be waiting for you in other metros. ·If another mark is infringing upon yours within the state, you’ll have a…

Trademark 101: Should You Trademark?

Now that we know what a trademark is and is not, let’s dive into the next logical question: should you trademark?
The easiest way to answer this question is to look at your business and your plans for it.
-Is the name, logo, or slogan an integral part of your business? -Are you doing business on a statewide or nationwide or international level? If you’re only doing business citywide or countywide, do you see potential for geographical growth? -Would another business in your industry using the same or similar name hurt your business? In other words, is it possible you’d lose customers if someone had the same or similar name in your industry?
If you answered yes to any of the above then exploring a trademark is the way to go.
Here’s what a US Federal trademark gives you:
·A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration (whereas a state registration only provides rights…