TMEP 1306.05(g)(i): Considerations When the Proposed Mark Is a Geographic Certification Mark

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1306.05(g)(i)    Considerations When the Proposed Mark Is a Geographic Certification Mark

When the application is for a geographic certification mark, the examining attorney should consider citing not only any prior mark with distinctive elements (e.g., suggestive, arbitrary, or fanciful wording, or distinctive design elements) that are confusingly similar to those in the applied-for geographic certification mark, but also any prior mark of any type that contains a geographic designation (whether disclaimed or not) that is confusingly similar to the designation in the applied-for mark.

Thus, if the geographic certification mark certifies that figs originate in Wyoming, and consists of a stylized cowboy hat above the wording WYOMING CERTIFIED (with CERTIFIED disclaimed), the potential cites may include (i) a geographic certification mark that is applied to Wyoming figs and is composed of the wording WYOMING’S OWN and (ii) a trademark that is applied to figs and consists of a cowboy-hat design that is nearly identical to the design in the applied-for mark.

Or, if the geographic certification mark certifies that pecans originate in Shenandoah County, Virginia, and consists of the wording SHENANDOAH COUNTY, potential cites may include (i) a trademark for roasted mixed nuts, consisting of the wording T.MARKEY’S SHENANDOAH MIXED NUTS (with SHENANDOAH MIXED NUTS disclaimed) and (ii) a trademark for pecans, composed of a stylized depiction of a pecan and the wording PETE’S PRICELESS PECANS OF SHENANDOAH (with PECANS OF SHENANDOAH disclaimed).

If there are numerous registrations and prior applications containing the same geographic designation (whether disclaimed or not) as the geographic certification mark, then, in the absence of the consent of the relevant registrants and applicants, a §2(d) refusal citing all of the relevant registrations and an advisory citing the prior applications may be appropriate. In addition, the examining attorney should consider refusing registration under Trademark Act §§4 and 45, 15 U.S.C. §§1054, 1127, on the basis that the application does not satisfy all of the statutory requirements for a certification mark because the applicant does not appear to exercise legitimate control over the use of the applied-for mark. See 15 U.S.C. §1054; 37 C.F.R. §2.45; TMEP §1306.04(b)(i). The applicant may respond to these refusals by submitting information or evidence that supports registration, including information and evidence regarding the relationship between the applicant and the owners of the cited marks.