TMEP 1204.02(a): Designs that are Insignia Under §2(b) Must Be Refused

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1204.02(a)    Designs that are Insignia Under §2(b) Must Be Refused

Flags and coats of arms are specific designs formally adopted to serve as emblems of governmental authority. The wording "other insignia" should not be interpreted broadly, but should be considered to include only those emblems and devices that also represent governmental authority and that are of the same general class and character as flags and coats of arms. See, e.g., In re Shabby Chic Brands, LLC, 122 USPQ2d 1139 (TTAB 2017) (affirming §2(b) refusal after finding the applied-for mark to be a simulation of insignia of the United Kingdom, namely, the Prince of Wales’ official emblem).

The following are insignia of the United States for purposes of §2(b):

  • Great Seal of the United States
  • Presidential Seal
  • Seals of Government Agencies

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has construed the statutory language as follows:

[T]he wording "or other insignia of the United States" must be restricted in its application to insignia of the same general class as "the flag or coats of arms" of the United States. Since both the flag and coat or [sic] arms are emblems of national authority it seems evident that other insignia of national authority such as the Great Seal of the United States, the Presidential Seal, and seals of government departments would be equally prohibited registration under Section 2(b). On the other hand, it appears equally evident that department insignia which are merely used to identify a service or facility of the Government are not insignia of national authority and that they therefore do not fall within the general prohibitions of this section of the Statute.

In re U.S. Dep't of the Interior, 142 USPQ 506, 507 (TTAB 1964) (finding logo comprising the words "NATIONAL PARK SERVICE" and "Department of the Interior," with depiction of trees, mountains, and a buffalo, surrounded by an arrowhead design, not to be an insignia of the United States). The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board reaffirmed this interpretation in In re Peter S. Herrick, P.A., 91 USPQ2d 1505 (TTAB 2009), by affirming the §2(b) refusal since applicant’s seal design was virtually identical to the seal used by the United States Department of the Treasury.