TMEP 1210.05(a): Basis for Refusal

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1210.05(a)    Basis for Refusal

Past Practice. Prior to the amendment of the Trademark Act by the NAFTA Implementation Act, the test for determining whether a mark was primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive under §2(e)(3) of the Trademark Act differed from the test for determining whether a mark was deceptive under §2(a) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(a). To establish that a mark was primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive under §2(e)(3), the examining attorney had to show that the primary significance of the mark was geographic, that purchasers would be likely to believe that the goods or services originated in the place named in the mark, and that the goods or services did not originate in that place. In re Nantucket, Inc., 677 F.2d 95, 213 USPQ 889 (C.C.P.A. 1982). An additional showing of “materiality” was required to establish that a mark was deceptive under §2(a), i.e., a showing that a goods/place or services/place association made by purchasers was “material” to the decision to purchase the goods or services. Bureau Nat’l Interprofessionnel Du Cognac v. Int'l Better Drinks Corp., 6 USPQ2d 1610 (TTAB 1988); In re House of Windsor, Inc., 221 USPQ 53 (TTAB 1983), recon. denied, 223 USPQ 191 (TTAB 1984).

Current Practice. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has held that with the NAFTA amendments, §2 of the Act “no longer treats geographically deceptively misdescriptive marks differently from geographically deceptive marks,” and that a showing of public deception is required to establish that a mark is unregistrable under §2(e)(3). In re Cal. Innovations Inc., 329 F.3d 1334, 1339, 66 USPQ2d 1853, 1856 (Fed. Cir. 2003), reh’g denied, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 18883 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 20, 2003). Thus, the test for determining whether, post-NAFTA, a mark is primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive under §2(e)(3) is now the same as the test for determining whether a mark is deceptive under §2(a). Id., 329 F.3d at 1340, 66 USPQ2d at 1857.