TMEP 1210.02(a): Geographic Locations

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

Previous: §1210.02 | Next: §1210.02(b)

1210.02(a)    Geographic Locations

A geographic location may be any term identifying a country, city, state, continent, locality, region, area, or street.

Region. A particular, identifiable region (e.g., “Midwest” or “Mid-Atlantic”) is a geographic location. In re Pan-O-Gold Baking Co., 20 USPQ2d 1761 (TTAB 1991) (holding that the primary significance of “New England” is geographic). On the other hand, vague geographic terms (e.g., “Global,” “National,” “International,” or “World”) are not considered to be primarily geographic, though they may be merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive under §2(e)(1). See TMEP §1209.03(o).

Nicknames. A geographic nickname (e.g., “Big Apple” or “Motown”), or an abbreviation or other variant of the name of a geographic location, is treated the same as the actual name of the geographic location, if it is likely to be perceived as such by the purchasing public. See In re Spirits of New Merced, LLC, 85 USPQ2d 1614 (TTAB 2007) (holding that “Yosemite” – a well recognized and frequently used shorthand reference to Yosemite National Park and the Yosemite region in general – conveys a readily recognizable geographic significance); In re Carolina Apparel, 48 USPQ2d 1542 (TTAB 1998) (CAROLINA APPAREL primarily geographically descriptive of retail clothing store services, where the evidence showed that “Carolina” is used to indicate either the state of North Carolina or the state of South Carolina). But see In re Trans Cont'l Records, Inc., 62 USPQ2d 1541 (TTAB 2002) (O-TOWN found to be a “relatively obscure term” that would not be perceived by a significant portion of the purchasing public as a geographic reference to Orlando, Florida).

Adjectives. The adjectival form of the name of a geographic location is considered primarily geographic if it is likely to be perceived as such by the purchasing public. See In re Joint-Stock Co. “Baik,” 80 USPQ2d 1305 (TTAB 2006) (BAIKALSKAYA – the Russian equivalent of “from Baikal” or “Baikal’s” – held primarily geographically descriptive of vodka); In re Jack’s Hi-Grade Foods, Inc., 226 USPQ 1028 (TTAB 1985) (NEAPOLITAN held primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive of sausage emanating from the United States, where the term is defined as “of or pertaining to Naples in Italy”); In re BankAmerica Corp., 231 USPQ 873 (TTAB 1986) (BANK OF AMERICA held primarily geographically descriptive).

Maps. A map or outline of a geographic area is also treated the same as the actual name of the geographic location if it is likely to be perceived as such. See In re Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Inc., 86 F.2d 830, 32 USPQ 49 (C.C.P.A. 1936) (map of Canada held to be the equivalent of the word “Canada”). But see In re Texsun Tire & Battery Stores, Inc., 229 USPQ 227, 229 (TTAB 1986) (holding that if the depiction of a map is fanciful or so integrated with other elements of a mark that it forms a unitary whole, then the map should not be considered primarily geographically descriptive).

Coined Locations. The mere fact that a term may be the name of a place that has a physical location does not necessarily make that term geographic under §2(e)(2). For example, names of amusement parks, residential communities, and business complexes which are coined by the applicant, must not be refused. In re Pebble Beach Co., 19 USPQ2d 1687 (TTAB 1991) (17 MILE DRIVE not a geographic term, where it refers to a specific location wholly owned by applicant, and was coined by applicant to refer both to applicant’s services and the place where the services were performed).