TMEP 1212.06(e)(i): First or Only User

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1212.06(e)(i)    First or Only User

When the applicant is the only source of the goods or services, use alone does not automatically represent trademark recognition and acquired distinctiveness. See, e.g., J. Kohnstam, Ltd. v. Louis Marx & Co., 280 F.2d 437, 440, 126 USPQ 362, 364 (C.C.P.A. 1960); In re Mortg. Bankers Ass’n of Am., 226 USPQ 954, 956 (TTAB 1985); In re Nat'l Shooting Sports Found., Inc., 219 USPQ 1018, 1020 (TTAB 1983); In re Meier’s Wine Cellars, Inc., 150 USPQ 475, 475 (TTAB 1966); In re G. D. Searle & Co., 143 USPQ 220, 223 (TTAB 1964), aff’d,360 F.2d 650, 149 USPQ 619 (C.C.P.A. 1966).

Similarly, evidence of intentional copying of a product design is not probative of acquired distinctiveness. "Where the proposed mark is a product design, the copier may be attempting to exploit a desirable product feature, rather than seeking to confuse customers as to the source of the product." In re Van Valkenburgh, 97 USPQ2d 1757, 1768 (TTAB 2011).