TMEP 1212.04(a): Sufficiency of Claim Vis-à-Vis Nature of the Mark

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1212.04(a)    Sufficiency of Claim Vis-à-Vis Nature of the Mark

The examining attorney has the discretion to determine whether the nature of the mark sought to be registered is such that a claim of ownership of an active prior registration for sufficiently similar goods or services is enough to establish acquired distinctiveness. For example, if the mark sought to be registered is deemed to be highly descriptive or misdescriptive of the goods or services named in the application, the examining attorney may require additional evidence of acquired distinctiveness. See In re Loew’s Theatres, Inc., 769 F.2d 764, 769, 226 USPQ 865, 869 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (finding claim of ownership of a prior registration insufficient to establish acquired distinctiveness where registration was refused as primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive).

If the term for which the applicant seeks to prove distinctiveness was disclaimed in the prior registration, the prior registration may not be accepted as prima facie evidence of acquired distinctiveness. Kellogg Co. v. Gen. Mills, Inc., 82 USPQ2d 1766, 1771 n.5 (TTAB 2007); In re Candy Bouquet Int’l, Inc., 73 USPQ2d 1883, 1889-90 (TTAB 2004).