1212.02(b) Section 2(f) Claim Is, for Procedural Purposes, a Concession that Matter Is Not Inherently Distinctive
For procedural purposes, a claim of distinctiveness under §2(f), whether made in the application as filed or in a subsequent amendment, may be construed as conceding that the matter to which it pertains is not inherently distinctive and, thus, not registrable on the Principal Register absent proof of acquired distinctiveness. See Cold War Museum, Inc. v. Cold War Air Museum, Inc., 586 F.3d 1352, 92 USPQ2d 1626, 1629 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (“Where an applicant seeks registration on the basis of Section 2(f), the mark's descriptiveness is a nonissue; an applicant’s reliance on Section 2(f) during prosecution presumes that the mark is descriptive.”). For the purposes of establishing that the subject matter is not inherently distinctive, the examining attorney may rely on this concession alone. Once an applicant has claimed that matter has acquired distinctiveness under §2(f), the issue to be determined is not whether the matter is inherently distinctive but, rather, whether it has acquired distinctiveness.
See, e.g., Yamaha Int’l Corp. v. Hoshino Gakki Co., 840 F.2d 1572, 1577, 6 USPQ2d 1001, 1005 (Fed. Cir. 1988); In re Cabot Corp., 15 USPQ2d 1224, 1229 (TTAB 1990); In re Prof'l Learning Ctrs., Inc., 230 USPQ 70, 71 (TTAB 1986); In re Chopper Indus., 222 USPQ 258, 259 (TTAB 1984).
However, claiming distinctiveness in the alternative is not an admission that the proposed mark is not inherently distinctive. TMEP §1212.02(c).
See TMEP §1212.02(d) regarding unnecessary §2(f) claims.