TMEP 1211.01(a)(ii): Phonetic Equivalent of Term with Ordinary Language Meaning

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1211.01(a)(ii)    Phonetic Equivalent of Term with Ordinary Language Meaning

A term may be primarily merely a surname even if it is the phonetic equivalent of a word that has an ordinary meaning (e.g., Byrne/burn; Knott/not or knot; Chappell/chapel). See In re Pickett Hotel Co., 229 USPQ 760 (TTAB 1986) (holding PICKETT SUITE HOTEL primarily merely a surname despite applicant’s argument that PICKETT is the phonetic equivalent of the word “picket”); cf. In re Monotype Corp. PLC, 14 USPQ2d 1070, 1071 (TTAB 1989) (holding CALISTO not primarily merely a surname, the Board characterizing the telephone directory evidence of surname significance as “minimal” and in noting the mythological significance of the name “Callisto,” stating that it is common knowledge that there are variations in the rendering of mythological names transliterated from the Greek alphabet (distinguishing Pickett Hotel Co., 229 USPQ 760)). Similarly, the fact that a word that has surname significance is also a hybrid or derivative of another word having ordinary language meaning is insufficient to overcome the surname significance, unless the perception of non-surname significance would displace the primary surname impact of the word. See In re Etablissements Darty et Fils, 759 F.2d 15, 225 USPQ 652 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (holding DARTY primarily merely a surname despite applicant’s argument that the mark is a play on the word “dart”); In re Petrin Corp., 231 USPQ 902 (TTAB 1986) (holding PETRIN primarily merely a surname despite applicant’s argument that the mark represents an abbreviation of “petroleum” and “insulation”).