TMEP 1211.01(a)(vi): “Look and Feel” of a Surname

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1211.01(a)(vi)    “Look and Feel” of a Surname

Some names, by their very nature, have only surname significance even though they are rare surnames. See In re Industrie Pirelli Societa per Azioni, 9 USPQ2d 1564, 1566 (TTAB 1988) (holding PIRELLI primarily merely a surname, the Board stated that “certain rare surnames look like surnames and certain rare surnames do not and... ‘PIRELLI’ falls into the former category....”); In re Petrin Corp., 231 USPQ 902 (TTAB 1986) (holding PETRIN primarily merely a surname). Conversely, certain surnames are so rare that they do not even have the appearance of surnames. In such cases, even in the absence of non-surname significance, a reasonable application of the “primary significance to the purchasing public” test could result in a finding that the surname, when used as a mark, would be perceived as arbitrary or fanciful. In re United Distillers plc, 56 USPQ2d 1220, 1222 (TTAB 2000) (finding HACKLER does not have the look and feel of a surname); see also In re Joint-Stock Co. “Baik,” 84 USPQ2d 1921, 1923 (TTAB 2007) (finding lack of other recognized meaning does not in itself imbue a mark with the “look and feel” of a surname).