Q.What are some reasons a trademark will be denied registration?
A.The Patent and Trademark Office will refuse to register a mark if it does not function as a trademark. Not all words, names, symbols, logos, designs, or devices function as trademarks. Some of the most common reasons trademarks are denied registration include: (1) "Likelihood of Confusion" (the mark sought to be registered is either identical or closely resembles another mark in the Federal registry such that it is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception); (2) "Descriptiveness" (the mark sought to be registered is merely descriptive of the source of the product or service being offered); (3) "Generic" (the mark sought to be registered is simply the generic name of the goods on which it is used, or generic description of the service (instead of the source); and (4) "Improper Description" (the words used to describe the goods and/or services identified in the application are too broad or unclear).
Some other grounds for refusing to register a mark include:
- the proposed mark consists of immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter;
- the proposed mark consists of or comprises the flag or coat of arms, or other insignia of the United States, or of any State or municipality, or of any foreign nation;
- the proposed mark consists of a name, portrait or signature identifying a particular living individual, and lacks that individual's written consent;
- the proposed mark is primarily geographically descriptive or deceptively geographically misdescriptive of applicant's goods or services; and
- the proposed mark is primarily merely a surname.