TMEP 904.03(i)(C)(3): "Contact Us," "Customize," or "Configure" Buttons and Links

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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904.03(i)(C)(3)    "Contact Us," "Customize," or "Configure" Buttons and Links

"Contact Us" buttons and links usually are not acceptable because they generally do not enable direct ordering of the goods. These buttons and links typically route consumers to a different web page that offers only an invitation to obtain more information about the goods, or about the retailers, wholesalers, or distributors who actually sell the goods, as shown in Example 14. See, e.g., In re Quantum Foods, Inc., 94 USPQ2d 1375, 1379 (TTAB 2010) (noting that the "contact us" link on applicant’s web-page specimen did not take customers to an order form, but instead routed to a web page with applicant’s e-mail address and telephone number); cf. In re Genitope Corp., 78 USPQ2d 1819, 1822 (TTAB 2006) (stating that the web page did not provide a link to order the goods or explain how to order them, where the web page contained a link for "click here for more information" and provided links for "Patient Backgrounder" and "Patient Resources" for "more information on personalized immunotherapy and our products").

Description: Screenshot of webpage displaying meat products.

Example 14: Web-page specimen is not acceptable because it lacks ordering information.

Mark: PROVIDING PROTEIN AND MENU SOLUTIONS

Goods: Processed meats, beef, pork, poultry and seafood sold in portions; fully cooked entrees consisting primarily of meat, beef, pork, poultry or seafood

  • The web page provides no means of ordering goods (e.g., no sales form, pricing, offers to accept orders, special instructions for ordering, or opportunity and means to order online) and the minimal product information makes it unclear what the goods are.
  • The TTAB found insufficient applicant’s claims that placing the cursor over "FOODSERVICE" reveals a drop-down menu from which the "contact us" link is selected, which brings up a web page containing an e-mail address and telephone number for applicant’s customer service department for ordering the goods.
  • Simply providing a "contact us" link does not convert advertising into a display and, in fact, the "contact us" link here does not even enable ordering, but only leads to applicant’s contact information. While the "Contact Us" web page was rejected as untimely, the TTAB stated that, although it may ultimately result in a sale, the "Contact Us" web page "appears to be no more calculated to do so than any corporate contact e-mail address or phone number that would result in the call or e-mail being referred to the sales office." In re Quantum Foods, Inc., 94 USPQ2d 1375, 1377 n.2 (TTAB 2010).

By analogy, a seller’s contact information that often appears in advertisements does not provide a sufficient means of ordering, in contrast to a telephone number on a sales form designated to accept orders. In re Genitope Corp., 78 USPQ2d at 1822.

Similarly, "Customize" and "Configure" buttons and links that allow customers to configure the goods generally are insufficient by themselves, since such features only enable personalization and not necessarily purchase of the goods. For these buttons and links to be deemed adequate means of ordering, the record must contain evidence that they permit customers to actually buy the goods. See In re Dell Inc., 71 USPQ2d 1725, 1727 (TTAB 2004) (finding that a "Customize It" link was sufficient ordering means when the information on the website clearly indicated that the goods could be bought online via the link).