TMEP 1202.07(a)(ii): Non-Syndicated Columns and Sections

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1202.07(a)(ii)    Non-Syndicated Columns and Sections

A column or section of a printed publication, a downloadable publication, or a publication recorded on electronic media that is not separately sold, syndicated, or offered for syndication is not, in and of itself, considered to be separate goods in trade. Therefore, where the specimen, identification of goods, or other evidence in the record indicates that the mark identifies a column or section of a printed publication, a downloadable publication, or a publication recorded on electronic media that is not separately sold, syndicated, or offered for syndication, the examining attorney should refuse registration on the Principal Register under §§1, 2, and 45 of the Trademark Act; 15 U.S.C. §§1051, 1052, and 1127, on the ground that the mark is not used on separate goods in trade.

Marks that identify non-syndicated columns or sections of printed publications, downloadable publications, or publications recorded on electronic media are registrable on the Principal Register under §2(f) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(f), if the column or section is shown to have acquired separate recognition and distinctiveness. An applicant who seeks registration on the Principal Register bears the burden of establishing, through evidence of promotion, long use, advertising expenditures, and breadth of distribution or sales figures, that the public has come to recognize the proposed mark as an indicator of source.

The evidence of acquired distinctiveness must show that the column or section title is used and promoted to distinguish applicant’s column or section from the columns or sections of other publishers’ publications, rather than merely to distinguish applicant’s column or section from other columns or sections of applicant’s publication. Metro Publ'g v. San Jose Mercury News, 987 F.2d 637, 25 USPQ2d 2049 (9th Cir. 1993); In re Broad. Publ'ns, 135 USPQ 374 (TTAB 1962).

The amount of evidence needed to establish distinctiveness must be evaluated by the examining attorney on a case-by-case basis, in light of the type of column or section. If the mark identifies a removable or pull-out section, a lesser degree of evidence might be required to establish distinctiveness. Of course, the amount of evidence needed to establish distinctiveness in any particular case will also vary depending on the strength or weakness of the mark. See TMEP §§1212–1212.06(e)(iv) regarding evidence of distinctiveness.

Marks that identify non-syndicated columns or sections of printed publications, downloadable publications, or publications recorded on electronic media, but have not yet acquired distinctiveness under §2(f) of the Act, are registrable on the Supplemental Register in applications under §1 or §44 of the Trademark Act, if registration is not barred by other sections of the Act. Ex parte Meredith Publ'g, 109 USPQ 426 (Comm’r Pats. 1956).