TMEP 1209.03(a): Third-Party Registrations

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1209.03(a)    Third-Party Registrations

Third-party registrations are not conclusive on the question of descriptiveness. Each case must stand on its own merits, and a mark that is merely descriptive must not be registered on the Principal Register simply because other such marks appear on the register. In re theDot Commc’ns Network LLC, 101 USPQ2d 1062, 1067 (TTAB 2011) (holding.music merely descriptive for, inter alia, on-line social networking services, domain registration services, interactive hosting services, electronic publishing, recording, and production services, online retail store and promotional services, and downloadable files and recordings despite the presence of third-party registrations for marks consisting of “dot ____” or “.____”); In re Scholastic Testing Serv., Inc., 196 USPQ 517, 519 (TTAB 1977) (holding SCHOLASTIC merely descriptive of devising, scoring, and validating tests for others despite the presence of other marks on the Register using the word “Scholastic”). The question of whether a mark is merely descriptive must be determined based on the evidence of record at the time registration is sought. See In re Nett Designs Inc., 236 F.3d 1339, 57 USPQ2d 1564 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (holding ULTIMATE BIKE RACK merely descriptive of “bicycle racks” despite the presence of “ultimate” without a disclaimer in other marks on the Principal Register); In re Sun Microsystems Inc., 59 USPQ2d 1084 (TTAB 2001) (holding AGENTBEANS merely descriptive of computer software for use in software development and deployment where the Board found that changes in the vocabulary of the field reduced the relevance of third-party registrations).