TMEP 1213.05(g): Marks with Design Elements Replacing Letters

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1213.05(g)    Marks with Design Elements Replacing Letters

Generally, when a design element replaces one or more letters (or a portion of a letter or letters) in a word that is merely descriptive, generic, or geographically descriptive, this combination of word and design element does not create a “unitary mark” if the word remains recognizable. Accordingly, the examining attorney must require a disclaimer of the merely descriptive, generic, or geographically descriptive word in such cases. See In re Clutter Control, Inc., 231 USPQ 588, 590 (TTAB 1986).

If the wording to be disclaimed is otherwise registrable (i.e., not generic), applicant may submit a claim of acquired distinctiveness as to that portion of the mark under Trademark Act §2(f). The examining attorney must always separately determine whether an applicant has adequately shown acquired distinctiveness. See In re Venturi, Inc., 197 USPQ 714, 717 (TTAB 1977).

The examining attorney must also assess whether the proposed mark might be unitary for other reasons (such as a compound or telescoped mark).