TMEP 1211.01(a)(i): Ordinary Language Meaning

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1211.01(a)(i)    Ordinary Language Meaning

If there is a readily recognized meaning of a term, apart from its surname significance, such that the primary significance of the term is not that of a surname, registration should be granted on the Principal Register without evidence of acquired distinctiveness. See In re Isabella Fiore LLC, 75 USPQ2d 1564 (TTAB 2005) (holding FIORE not primarily merely a surname where it is also the Italian translation of the English word "flower" and the non-surname meaning is not obscure); In re United Distillers plc, 56 USPQ2d 1220 (TTAB 2000) (holding the relatively rare surname HACKLER not primarily merely a surname, in light of dictionary meaning); Fisher Radio Corp. v. Bird Elec. Corp., 162 USPQ 265 (TTAB 1969) (holding BIRD not primarily merely a surname despite surname significance); In re Hunt Elecs. Co., 155 USPQ 606 (TTAB 1967) (holding HUNT not primarily merely a surname despite surname significance).

However, this does not mean that an applicant only has to uncover a non-surname meaning of a term to obviate a refusal under §2(e)(4). See In re Nelson Souto Major Piquet, 5 USPQ2d 1367 (TTAB 1987) (holding N. PIQUET (stylized) primarily merely a surname despite significance of the term "piquet" as "the name of a relatively obscure card game"). The mere existence of other non-surname meanings of a term does not preclude a finding that the term is primarily merely a surname. Mitchell Miller, P.C. v. Miller, 105 USPQ2d 1615, 1621 (TTAB 2013) (holding MILLER LAW GROUP primarily merely a surname for legal services despite other meanings of the term "miller"). "The question is not whether a mark having surname significance might also have a non-surname significance, but whether, in the context of the goods or services at issue, that non-surname significance is the mark's primary significance to the purchasing public." Id.; see In re Harris-Intertype Corp., 518 F.2d 629, 631, 186 USPQ 238, 239 (C.C.P.A. 1975).