TMEP 1202.10(a): Names and Designs of Characters in Creative Works in §1(b), §44, or §66(a) Applications

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1202.10(a)    Names and Designs of Characters in Creative Works in §1(b), §44, or §66(a) Applications

The issue of whether a proposed mark identifies only the name or design of a particular character is tied to use of the mark, as evidenced by the specimen. Therefore, unless the record, even without a specimen, reflects that the proposed mark identifies only the name or design of a character, generally no refusal will be issued in an intent-to-use application under §1(b) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051(b), until the applicant has submitted specimen(s) with an allegation of use under §1(c) or §1(d) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051(c) or (d). However, in a §1(b) application for which no specimen has been submitted, if the examining attorney anticipates that a refusal will be made on the ground that the proposed mark identifies only a particular character, the potential refusal should be brought to the applicant’s attention in the first action issued by the USPTO. This is done strictly as a courtesy. If information regarding this possible ground for refusal is not provided to the applicant before the allegation of use is filed, the USPTO is not precluded from refusing registration on this basis. In cases where the record indicates that the mark identifies only the name or design of a character, the examining attorney may make the refusal prior to the filing of the allegation of use.

In an application under §44 or §66(a), where a specimen of use is not required prior to registration, it is appropriate for examining attorneys to issue the refusal where the record indicates that the mark will identify only the name or design of a particular character. Cf. In re Right-On Co., 87 USPQ2d 1152, 1156-57 (TTAB 2008) (noting the propriety of and affirming an ornamentation refusal, which is otherwise typically specimen-based, in a §66(a) application).

See TMEP §1301.02(b) regarding names of characters or personal names as service marks.