1212.02(d) Unnecessary §2(f) Claims
If the applicant specifically requests registration under §2(f), but the examining attorney considers the entire mark to be inherently distinctive and the claim of acquired distinctiveness to be unnecessary, the examining attorney must so inform the applicant and inquire whether the applicant wishes to delete the statement or to rely on it.
In this situation, if it is necessary to issue an Office action about another matter, the examining attorney must state in the Office action that the §2(f) claim appears to be unnecessary, and inquire as to whether the applicant wants to withdraw it. If it is otherwise unnecessary to communicate with the applicant, the inquiry may be made by telephone or e-mail. If the applicant wants to delete the §2(f) claim, this may be done by examiner’s amendment. If the applicant does not respond promptly to the telephone or e-mail message (applicant must be given at least a week), the examining attorney must enter a Note to the File in the record and approve the application for publication without deleting the §2(f) claim.
If the applicant specifically requests registration of the entire mark under §2(f), but the examining attorney believes that part of the mark is inherently distinctive, the examining attorney should give the applicant the option of limiting the §2(f) claim to the matter that is not inherently distinctive, if otherwise appropriate. See TMEP §1212.02(f) regarding claims of §2(f) distinctiveness as to a portion of a mark. However, if the applicant wishes, a claim of acquired distinctiveness under §2(f) may be made as to an entire mark or phrase that contains both inherently distinctive matter and matter that is not inherently distinctive. In re Del E. Webb Corp., 16 USPQ2d 1232, 1234 (TTAB 1990).
If the application contains statements that seem to relate to acquired distinctiveness or §2(f) but do not actually amount to a request for registration under §2(f), and the examining attorney does not believe that resorting to §2(f) is necessary, the examining attorney may treat the statements as surplusage. If it is necessary to communicate with the applicant about another matter, the examining attorney should inform the applicant that the statements are being treated as surplusage. If it is otherwise unnecessary to communicate with the applicant, the examining attorney should delete the statements from the Trademark database, enter a Note to the File in the record indicating that this has been done, and approve the application for publication. The documents containing the surplusage will remain in the record, but a §2(f) claim will not be printed in the Official Gazette or on the certificate of registration. See TMEP §817 regarding preparation of applications for publication or issuance.