2173.05(u) Trademarks or Trade Names in a Claim [R-07.2022]
The presence of a trademark or trade name in a claim is not, per se, improper under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, but the claim should be carefully analyzed to determine how the mark or name is used in the claim. It is important to recognize that a trademark or trade name is used to identify a source of goods, and is not the name of the goods themselves. Thus a trademark or trade name does not define or describe the goods associated with the trademark or trade name. See definitions of trademark and trade name in MPEP § 608.01(v).
If the trademark or trade name is used in a claim as a limitation to identify or describe a particular material or product, the claim does not comply with the requirements of the 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph. Ex parte Simpson, 218 USPQ 1020 (Bd. App. 1982). See also Eli Lilly & Co. v. Apotex, Inc., 837 Fed. Appx. 780, 784-85, 2020 USPQ2d 11531 (Fed. Cir. 2020) ("Following Patent Office procedure, the Examiner in this case rejected the claims of the '821 application as indefinite because they improperly used the trade name 'ALIMTA.' In response to the rejection, Lilly canceled its claims reciting the trade name and pursued claims using the generic name for the same substance, which mooted the rejection. Additionally, as the district court observed, the Examiner 'explicitly noted that pemetrexed disodium was 'also known by the trade name ALIMTA' ' in the contemporaneous obviousness rejection."). The claim scope is uncertain since the trademark or trade name cannot be used properly to describe any particular material or product. In fact, the value of a trademark would be lost to the extent that it became the generic name of a product, rather than used as an identification of a source or origin of a product. Thus, the use of a trademark or trade name in a claim to describe a material or product would not only render a claim indefinite, but would also constitute an improper use of the trademark or trade name. If the applicant responds to such a rejection by replacing the trademark or trade name with a generic term, the examiner should determine whether there is sufficient support in the application for use of a generic term. See MPEP § 2163, subsection II.A.3(b).
If a trademark or trade name appears in a claim and is not intended as a limitation in the claim, the question of why it is in the claim should be addressed. If its presence in the claim causes confusion as to the scope of the claim, then the claim should be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph.