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Showing posts from December, 2009
What is Immoral or Scandalous Matter?

Some may think this is a very subjective definition, but I assure you, the USPTO sees it differently. Here is what they have to say about it:“Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(a), is an absolute bar to the registration of immoral or scandalous matter on either the Principal Register or the Supplemental Register.Although the words “immoral” and “scandalous” may have somewhat different connotations, case law has included immoral matter in the same category as scandalous matter.In affirming a refusal to register a mark as scandalous under §2(a), the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals noted dictionary entries that defined “scandalous” as, inter alia, shocking to the sense of propriety, offensive to the conscience or moral feelings or calling out for condemnation. McGinley, 660 F.2d at 486, 211 USPQ at 673 (mark comprising a photograph of a nude, reclining man and woman, kissing and embracing, for a “newsletter devoted to social and i…
Suggestive Marks


One of our amazing researchers, Heather Roberts, took some time to write this article, which I'm extremely thankful as time has been limited as of late. Heather wrote a few more great articles that I'll be sharing during the rest of the week. Thanks Heather!

The strength of a particular trademark is gauged according to the Distinctiveness & Descriptiveness Continuum. To see a chart, click here.

What is a Suggestive Mark?

Here’s what the USPTO says: “Suggestive marks are those that, when applied to the goods or services at issue, require imagination, thought, or perception to reach a conclusion as to the nature of those goods or services. Thus, a suggestive term differs from a descriptive term, which immediately tells something about the goods or services...(SNO-RAKE held not merely descriptive of a snow-removal hand tool)...(QUIK-PRINT held merely descriptive of printing services)...(BUG MIST held merely descriptive of insecticide).

Suggestive marks, like fanci…
Arbitrary Trademarks


The strength of a particular trademark is gauged according to the Distinctiveness & Descriptiveness Continuum. To see a chart, click here.

Arbitrary marks are not as strong as fanciful marks but they are still strong in terms of trademarks. Choosing an arbitrary mark certainly makes the trademark filing process easier, provided, of course, that the mark is legally available.

What is an Arbitrary Mark?

Here’s what the USPTO says:

“Arbitrary marks comprise words that are in common linguistic use but, when used to identify particular goods or services, do not suggest or describe a significant ingredient, quality, or characteristic of the goods or services.”

This is an area that confuses folks a bit. I know that’s a question we get a lot – I can’t trademark a name that’s in the dictionary, right? Well, like anything with trademarks, it’s a gray area. If the product is apple juice then, no, the name APPLE cannot be filed for a trademark as it’s descriptive of the goods. …
Fanciful Trademarks


The strength of a particular trademark is gauged according to the Distinctiveness & Descriptiveness Continuum. To see a chart, click here.

On the very left of that continuum are fanciful marks, which arguably are the strongest sort of marks to file. Filing these types of marks increase the likelihood of trademark registration (provided, of course, that the mark is legally available).

What is a Fanciful Mark?

Here’s what the USPTO says:“Fanciful marks comprise terms that have been invented for the sole purpose of functioning as a trademark or service mark. Such marks comprise words that are either unknown in the language (e.g., PEPSI, KODAK, and EXXON) or are completely out of common usage (e.g., FLIVVER).”

Basically, fanciful trademarks are either made up words or words that are seen as archaic.

Should I Choose a Fanciful Mark?

While fanciful marks are certainly the strongest types of trademarks, does it necessarily mean you should choose a fanciful word for your se…