TMEP 1202.16(c)(ii): Entire Mark Consists of Model or Grade Designation in §1(a) Applications

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1202.16(c)(ii)    Entire Mark Consists of Model or Grade Designation in §1(a) Applications

If the evidence shows that a proposed mark consists entirely of a mere model or grade designation, the examining attorney must refuse registration on the Principal Register under §§1, 2, and 45 because the proposed mark does not function as a trademark to identify and distinguish the applicant’s goods from those of others and indicate the source of the goods. 15 U.S.C §§1051 -1052, 1127.

For such refusals, where appropriate, the examining attorney should advise the applicant of the various response options: (1) submitting a substitute specimen that shows the proposed mark being used as a trademark for the identified goods; (2) claiming acquired distinctiveness under §2(f) with actual evidence of distinctiveness that establishes recognition of the proposed mark as a trademark for the goods; or (3) amending the application to seek registration on the Supplemental Register. SeeTrademark Act §23, 15 U.S.C. §1091; In re Petersen Mfg. Co., 229 USPQ 466, 468 (TTAB 1986) (finding letter-number combinations registrable under §2(f) for locking hand tools and stating, "there is no question that such model designations can, through use and promotion, be perceived as marks indicating origin in addition to functioning as model designations."); 37 C.F.R. §2.59(a); TMEP §904.05.

For marks comprising grade designations, the examining attorney must determine whether to make an additional refusal on the grounds that the mark is also merely descriptive of the goods. Trademark Act §2(e)(1), 15 U.S.C. §§1052(e)(1). Grade designations can often become synonymous with (and thus merely descriptive of) a classification, value, size, weight, type, degree, mode of manufacturing, or level of quality of the goods. Grade designations that are also the generic name of the goods are not eligible for registration on the Principal Register under §2(f) or on the Supplemental Register because they are not capable of indicating the source of the goods and must remain available to identify the relevant characteristic possessed by goods meeting such criteria. In such cases, if the applicant responds by amending the application to seek registration on the Supplemental Register, the examining attorney must issue a generic refusal under §23. In the rare situation where the applicant is the sole user of a grade designation and where the mark appears capable, the applicant should be provided with the same response options identified above for applicable model designations.