How can I overcome a surname refusal issued by the USPTO?

Photo of Tomas Orsula

Written by Tomas Orsula

Senior Trademark Attorney

A surname refusal, based on Section 2(e)(4), occurs when the USPTO examiner concludes the mark is "primarily merely a surname" rather than an identificator of the source of goods and services provided under the applied-for mark.

To overcome a Section 2(e)(4) refusal, you can consider exploring the following options:

  • Proving the mark has a secondary meaning beyond being merely a surname.
  • Highlighting additional distinctive elements in the mark that distinguish it from a mere surname.
  • Proving the mark has acquired distinctiveness through use in commerce.

It's worth mentioning that the owners of many surname-based marks end up seeking registration on the Supplemental Register, the secondary register maintained by the USPTO. Marks on the Supplemental Register do not receive the same level of protection as marks on the Principal Register, but they still offer certain benefits.

Remember that your chances of successfully overcoming this type of office action depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Seeking professional legal advice and assistance is therefore highly recommended.

Advice icon

Haven't found what you are looking for?

Our team of experienced trademark attorneys is here to help you! Simply send us an email outlining your request and we'll be happy to assist you.