TMEP 1210.04(d): Arbitrary Use of Geographic Terms

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1210.04(d)    Arbitrary Use of Geographic Terms

The name of a geographic location that has no significant relation to commercial activities or the production of the relevant goods or services, such as ALASKA for bananas, is treated as an arbitrary mark because it is unlikely that consumers would believe that the mark identifies the place from which the goods originate.

Often, names of mountains or rivers are arbitrary for goods because no commercial activity is performed there. For example, "Colorado River" for candy bars or "Mount Rushmore" for automobiles would be arbitrary. See In re Nantucket, Inc., 677 F.2d 95, 105, 213 USPQ 889, 897 (C.C.P.A. 1982) (Nies, J., concurring) ("Thus, the names of places devoid of commercial activity are arbitrary usage. In this category are names of places such as ANTARCTICA, MOUNT EVEREST, or GALAPAGOS, at least when used for ordinary commercial products, such as beer and shoes. Names such as SUN, WORLD, GLOBE, MARS, or MILKY WAY are also arbitrary, not informational; competitors do not need to use the terms to compete effectively.").