TMEP 1213.05(e): Sound Patterns

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1213.05(e)    Sound Patterns

Alliterative or repeated wording does not in itself make a mark unitary. In re Ginc UK Ltd., 90 USPQ2d 1472, 1477 (TTAB 2007) (finding the rhyming quality of the words ZOGGS TOGGS "does not infuse TOGGS with any separate and distinct meaning apart from its generic meaning"); In re Lean Line, Inc., 229 USPQ 781, 782 (TTAB 1986) (holding LEAN LINE not unitary; "there is nothing in the record to suggest that the mere fact that both words which form the mark begin with the letter ‘L’ would cause purchasers to miss the merely descriptive significance of the term ‘LEAN’ or consider the entire mark to be a unitary expression.")

In rare cases, a rhyming pattern, alliteration, or some other use of sound that creates a distinctive impression may contribute to a finding that the mark is regarded as unitary and individual elements should not be disclaimed. See In re Kraft, Inc., 218 USPQ 571, 573 (TTAB 1983) (finding LIGHT N’ LIVELY to be a unitary term not subject to disclaimer, because the mark as a whole "has a suggestive significance which is distinctly different from the merely descriptive significance of the term 'LIGHT' per se" and that "the merely descriptive significance of the term 'LIGHT' is lost in the mark as a whole."). Other evidence, such as registrations of the mark for related goods and consumer recognition of the mark as a unitary expression, may also contribute to a finding that the mark is unitary. Id.