1202.16(c)(i)(B) Grade Designations
A refusal or requirement (such as a disclaimer requirement) on the basis that a mark comprises or includes a grade designation must be supported by relevant evidence. Where extrinsic evidence is available to show that a proposed grade designation is used by competitors within an industry and/or members of the public to convey the same meaning, the examining attorney must attach the evidence to the Office action and explain its relevance to the refusal. For example, evidence demonstrating that other manufacturers use the same or similar grading systems to identify quality levels of their own goods may be submitted with an explanation that such evidence shows that the proposed mark does not indicate origin from a single source. If no extrinsic evidence is available, the examining attorney must use the applicant’s specimen, along with any other relevant evidence of record, to support a grade designation refusal for failure to function as a mark. In such situations, the examining attorney must also issue a request for relevant information (such as fact sheets, instruction manuals, and/or advertisements depicting the applicant’s use of the proposed mark, and evidence of any industry use of this designation or similar designations) pursuant to 37 C.F.R. §2.61(b).