TMEP 1202.17(e)(iii): Caduceus, Rod of Asclepius, and Prescription Symbol

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1202.17(e)(iii)    Caduceus, Rod of Asclepius, and Prescription Symbol

Description: image of Caduceus symbol
Description: image of Serpent and Staff Symbol, also known as the Rod of Asclepius
Description: image of Prescription Symbol

The caduceus and the Rod of Asclepius are commonly used to indicate that goods or services are medical in nature or otherwise relate to the medical profession. See Webster’s New World College Dictionary 195 (3rd ed. 1997) (defining "caduceus" as "the staff of an ancient herald; esp., the winged staff with two serpents coiled about it... an emblematic staff like this with either one or two serpents, used as a symbol of the medical profession"); THEFREEDICTIONARY.COM, search of "Rod of Asclepius," (Aug. 24, 2012) (citing Segen’s Medical Dictionary) (defining "Rod of Asclepius" as "[t]he ‘correct’ symbol of medicine, which is a knarled [sic] wooden staff with a single encircling snake"). The prescription symbol is frequently used in connection with prescription drugs or medicated goods, or with services relating to these items. See Webster’s New World College Dictionary 1178 (3rd ed. 1997) (defining "Rx" as "symbol for PRESCRIPTION"). For any marks containing these symbols, the examining attorney should review the specimen, the relevant evidence, and the goods/services to determine if the mark functions as a source indicator or instead is merely informational. In those instances that the mark fails to function, there is likely also a valid basis for finding the symbol descriptive.