TMEP 1212.02(g): Examining Attorney’s Role in Suggesting §2(f) or Appropriate Kind/Amount of Evidence

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1212.02(g)    Examining Attorney’s Role in Suggesting §2(f) or Appropriate Kind/Amount of Evidence

In a first action refusing registration, the examining attorney should suggest, where appropriate, that the applicant amend its application to seek registration under §2(f). For example, this should be done as a matter of course, if otherwise appropriate, in cases where registration is refused under §2(e)(4) on the ground that the mark is primarily merely a surname, and the applicant has recited dates of use that indicate that the mark has been in use in commerce for at least five years.

If the examining attorney determines that an applicant’s evidence is insufficient to establish that the mark has acquired distinctiveness, the examining attorney should suggest, where appropriate, that the applicant submit additional evidence. See In re Half Price Books, Records, Magazines, Inc., 225 USPQ 219, 220 n.2 (TTAB 1984) (Noting that applicant was specifically invited to seek registration pursuant to §2(f) but, after amending its application to do so, was refused registration on the ground that the mark was incapable of acquiring distinctiveness, the Board stated that, in fairness to applicant, this practice should be avoided where possible).

The examining attorney should not “require” that the applicant submit evidence of secondary meaning. There would be no practical standard for a proper response to this requirement, nor would there be a sound basis for appeal from the requirement. See In re Capital Formation Counselors, Inc., 219 USPQ 916, 917 n.2 (TTAB 1983) (“Section 2(f) is not a provision on which registration can be refused.”).

The examining attorney should not specify the kind or the amount of evidence sufficient to establish that a mark has acquired distinctiveness. It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit evidence to establish that the mark has acquired distinctiveness. See TMEP §1212.01. However, the examining attorney may make a suggestion as to a course of action, if the examining attorney believes this would further the prosecution of the application.