TMEP 1205.01(c)(iii): Applicable Refusals

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1205.01(c)(iii)    Applicable Refusals

The statute prohibiting use of the Greek red cross on a white ground, or the designation “Red Cross” or “Geneva Cross,” by unauthorized parties applies to “any insignia colored in imitation thereof.” 18 U.S.C. §706. If the mark includes a design element that would be likely to be perceived as the Geneva red cross, and it is not significantly altered, stylized, or merged with other elements in the mark, the examining attorney must refuse registration under §§1 and 45, because the mark is not in lawful use in commerce, and under §2(a), if any of the following conditions exist:

  • the drawing or foreign registration shows the symbol in red;
  • the drawing is not in color, but the specimen shows the symbol in red; or
  • the drawing is not in color, but it includes the wording Red Cross or Geneva Cross.

See TMEP §1205.01(c). The refusals may be withdrawn if the applicant amends the drawing to a different, non-prohibited color scheme, or a non-color version of the drawing (i.e., a black-and-white or gray scale drawing) or submits a proper substitute specimen showing use of the mark in a color other than red. Cf. TMEP §§1205.01(d)(i)(D), 1205.01(d)(ii)(D). However, a photocopy of the original specimen is not an acceptable substitute specimen.

A mark that includes a Greek cross will generally be considered registrable, and will not be refused as a red cross under §§1 and 45, or under §2(a), if the applicant does not claim color as a feature of the mark and the specimen shows the symbol in a color other than red. In such cases, a statement that the mark is not used in the color red is unnecessary, and if submitted, must not be printed on the registration certificate.

Regarding the phrases “Red Cross” and “Geneva Cross,” the statute prohibiting use of these designations does not apply to variations or modifications of these words. Only marks that include the exact wording RED CROSS or GENEVA CROSS, with or without additional wording, must be refused under §2(a) and §§1 and 45.

For example, RED CROSSES would not be refused registration, but RED CROSS DONOR could be refused registration if the date of first use is after June 25, 1948.