1212.02(a) Situations in Which a Claim of Distinctiveness Under §2(f) Is Appropriate
A claim of distinctiveness by the applicant under §2(f) is usually made either in response to a statutory refusal to register or in anticipation of such a refusal. See TMEP §714.05(a)(i). A claim of distinctiveness is appropriately made in response to, or in anticipation of, only certain statutory refusals to register. For example, it is inappropriate to assert acquired distinctiveness to contravene a refusal under §2(a), (b), (c), (d), or (e)(5), 15 U.S.C. §1052(a), (b), (c), (d), (e)(5). Furthermore, acquired distinctiveness may not be asserted to contravene a refusal under §2(e)(3), 15 U.S.C. §1052(e)(3), unless the mark became distinctive of the applicant’s goods in commerce before December 8, 1993, the date of enactment of the NAFTA Implementation Act (see TMEP §1210.07(b)). See TMEP §§1210.05(d)–1210.05(d)(ii) regarding procedures for refusing registration under §2(a) in response to a claim that a geographically deceptive mark acquired distinctiveness prior to December 8, 1993.
In In re Soccer Sport Supply Co., 507 F.2d 1400, 1403 n.3, 184 USPQ 345, 348 n.3 (C.C.P.A. 1975), the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals noted as follows:
[T]he judicially developed concept of "secondary meaning," codified by section 2(f) (15 U.S.C. 1052(f) ), relates to descriptive, geographically descriptive, or surname marks which earlier had a primary meaning which did not indicate a single source and were, therefore, unregistrable because of section 2(e) (citation omitted). Additionally, section 2(f) has been applied to permit registration of a mark consisting solely of a design and, therefore, not within the purview of section 2(e).