TMEP 1209: Refusal on Basis of Descriptiveness

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1209    Refusal on Basis of Descriptiveness

15 U.S.C. §1052   (Extract)

No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it.... (e) Consists of a mark which, (1) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of them....

Matter that “merely describes” the goods or services on or in connection with which it is used is not registrable on the Principal Register. As noted in In re Abcor Dev. Corp., 588 F.2d 811, 813, 200 USPQ 215, 217 (C.C.P.A. 1978):

The major reasons for not protecting such marks are: (1) to prevent the owner of a mark from inhibiting competition in the sale of particular goods; and (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.