TMEP 1402.03(b): House Marks

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1402.03(b)    House Marks

House marks are marks used by an entity on a wide range of goods. Marks of this type are often used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food fields. A house mark is different from a product mark that is used on a specific item or closely related items. A product may bear both a product mark and a house mark.

Under certain limited circumstances, an applicant may apply to register a mark as a house mark. In an application for registration of a house mark, the identification of goods may include wording such as “a house mark for....” As with other applications, these applications must define the type of goods with sufficient particularity to permit proper classification and to enable the USPTO to make necessary determinations under §2(d) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(d).

In an application to register a mark as a house mark based on use in commerce, the applicant must demonstrate that the mark is, in fact, used as a house mark. Therefore, the examining attorney must require that the applicant provide catalogues, or similar evidence showing broad use of the mark, to substantiate this claim. See 37 C.F.R. §2.61(b).

An intent-to-use applicant who wishes to register a mark as a house mark must clearly indicate its intention to register the mark as a house mark during initial examination, and the circumstances must establish that the applicant’s proposed use of the mark as a house mark is credible. The nature of the mark and the capacity of the applicant to use the mark as asserted should be considered in determining whether the claim that the mark is to be used as a house mark is credible. If the applicant indicates such an intention, the examining attorney should advise the applicant that, upon filing of the allegation of use, the applicant will be required to provide evidence to substantiate use as a house mark. 37 C.F.R. §2.61(b). If the applicant cannot do so, the applicant will be required to amend the identification of goods to conform to the usual standards for specificity.

The USPTO will register a mark as a house mark only in the limited circumstances where the mark is actually used as a house mark. Therefore, if an applicant seeks to register a house mark in an application under §44 or §66(a) of the Trademark Act, the examining attorney must require evidence that the mark is in fact used as a house mark. This is not a requirement for specimens, but rather a requirement that applicant provide evidence to substantiate the claim of use as a house mark. 37 C.F.R. §2.61(b). If the applicant cannot do so, the identification of goods must be amended to conform to the usual standards for specificity.