What is a descriptiveness refusal?

Photo of Jan Buza

Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

A descriptiveness refusal occurs when the USPTO's examining attorney deems a trademark application descriptive of the goods and services the mark represents. For example, the name SuperFast for a car brand would seen as descriptive since the name merely describes a characteristic of the product.

To overcome a descriptiveness refusal, an applicant might need to show that the mark has acquired distinctiveness through extensive use in commerce. This is often demonstrated by providing evidence that consumers recognize the mark as a source indicator for the specific goods or services.

Alternatively, the applicant may choose to amend the application to seek registration on the Supplemental Register, where the mark can be registered with some protection but not the same level of exclusivity as the Principal Register.

Sometimes, the refusal may also be overcome if the applicant can prove a secondary meaning or layer of interpretation of the mark.

Your chances of success depend on the specific circumstances of your case; therefore, if you've received a descriptiveness refusal, it's highly advisable to seek legal assistance.

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