Trademark Blog

What Is a Trademark Application Descriptiveness Refusal?

trademark attorney descriptiveness refusal

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Trademark Registration: The Spectrum of Distinctiveness

Business and product names are more or less eligible for Federal trademark registration depending upon where they lie along a "spectrum of distinctiveness." 

That is, whether or not a name can be registered on a trademark will depend upon how uniquely it does or doesn't identify the product or service to which it is attached. 

Trademark Registration: Fanciful Marks

The easiest mark to register is what is known as a "fanciful" mark. 

This is an invented word or phrase, made up for the specific purpose of use as a trademark. They are words that don't exist in language outside of their commercial use in identifying the product or service at issue. 

Two examples are Kodak and Exxon. 

Trademark Registration: Arbitrary Marks

Next along the spectrum of distinctiveness are "arbitrary" marks. These are words which exist in current language usage but, when used to identify a particular product or service, do not in any way describe that product or service. 

An arbitrary mark doesn't tell you anything about that good or service, in other words. 

An example would be Apple Computers. Computers are not made of apples (ideally). Thus, the mark is "arbitrary." 

Trademark Registration: Suggestive Marks

A "suggestive" mark steps a little closer to the line of descriptiveness than fanciful or arbitrary marks. A suggestive mark will "suggest" some aspect or quality of the good or service which it identifies to consumers, while still leaving consumers to exercise some imagination in determining what that product or service actually is. 

Netflix and Airbus are examples of these sorts of marks. 

Trademark Registration: Descriptive Marks

At the dismal end of the spectrum like marks which are merely descriptive or misdescriptive

A mark is merely descriptive if describing an ingredient, characteristic, function, feature, purpose, or use of the good or service with which it is related. 

Likewise, a mark is descriptive if it "immediately conveys" knowledge of the good or service's qualities, features, functions, or characteristics. 

An example might be something along the lines of "Red Basketballs" for a product which is—a red basketball. 

The attorney-examiner is required to issue an Office Action refusal of trademark registration applications for terms that are merely descriptive. 

Trademark Registration: Office Action Descriptiveness Refusals

An "Office Action" is the name of a refusal to accept for registration your trademark application by the attorney examiner assigned to your case by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), with which it is filed. 

Some Office Actions are "administrative," requiring just a tweak in the description of the product or service. Others are "substantive," requiring a formal Response by drafted by your Trademark Attorney. This is a form of litigation. 

A descriptiveness refusal is a highly substantive Office Action. If you filed your trademark registration application without a US-licensed attorney, you will need to hire one immediately upon receipt of such a refusal. 

It is important to understand from the outset that the USPTO examiner is only required to prove whether the mark "conveys an immediate idea" of an ingredient, quality, characteristic, feature, function, purpose, or use of the goods. 

The examiner is not required to prove that anyone else have used the mark, or that the term at issue describes every quality, characteristic, feature, function, etc., of the product or service. 

Trademark Registration & Descriptiveness Refusals: The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that with regard to trademark protection of your name or log, it doesn't pay to go cheap after investing all of your resources and time into the development of the product itself. 

Once an Office Action is filed by the USPTO examiner, you have 6 months to Respond, or the application and the mark will be classified as Abandoned.

Retain a trademark attorney such as Attorney John Hilla to assist you with your search and your application to ensure the best results. 

Attorney Hilla's trademark practice is national, and he represents clients for trademark matters anywhere in the United States and beyond. 


Contact Us Here to schedule an initial consultation appointment at no charge to discuss your trademark needs. 

Trademark Registration Attorney: What Is a Letter of Protest?

Michigan Trademark Attorney: A Letter of Protest is a low-expense method of providing evidence that a trademark registration application that has been filed by a 3rd party may not be registrable to the USPTO. Contact The Hilla Law Firm PLLC at (734) 743-1489 to discuss your trademark issue. Virtual consultations.

Trademark Registration Fees Increasing January 2, 2021

Federal trademark registration fees will increase across the board on January 2, 2021. If you are considering applying for registration of your business or product name or logo, contact The Hilla Law Firm now to apply now! (734) 743-1489 - Affordable flat fees - Virtual consultations - Nationwide service

Who Must Sign a Trademark Registration Application?

A Federal trademark application contains a verified statement of facts requiring signature by individual or corporate officer with firsthand knowledge. In other areas, the owner's trademark attorney must sign as representative. The Hilla Law Firm (734) 743-1489

Can I Use An Abandoned Trademark?

Michigan Trademark Attorney - The fact that a Federal trademark registration has been abandoned or is listed as dead in the USPTO TESS database does not necessarily mean it is available for your use. Contact The Hilla Law Firm at (734) 743-1489 to discuss your trademark registration. Affordable flat fees, virtual consultations.

Detroit Trademark Attorneys: Can I Use a Celebrity Name In My Trademark?

Detroit Trademark Attorneys - You cannot use a celebrity's name or image in your proposed trademark without that celebrity's express authorization. The USPTO trademark application form requires it—and the celebrity owns his or her own "right of publicity." Contact The Hilla Law Firm at (734) 743-1489 to discuss your trademark application. Affordable flat fees and virtual consultations.

Trademark Attorney: What Is the Difference Between Trademark and Patent and Copyright Law?

The key difference between trademark, copyright, and patent law is in the subject-matter of the Federal protection involved. Federal Patent and Copyright Registration protects the design or work of the creator whereas a Trademark Registration protects consumers' right to know what they are buying and from whom. The Hilla Law Firm represents Trademark clients across the US. Call now to schedule a free, virtual Trademark Registration consultation: (734) 743-1489.
Page: 1234567 - All
"See what past clients are saying about how we helped them!"

The Hilla Law Firm did an excellent job handling the trademark registration for my online business. In my case, the process turned out to be complicated as another business registered for a similar name. The Hilla Law Firm expertly handled the situation and my trademark was approved! Kelly
See More Case Studies