What is a genericness refusal?

Photo of Tomas Orsula

Written by Tomas Orsula

Senior Trademark Attorney

A genericness refusal occurs when the USPTO examiner determines that the applied-for mark is generic. Generic terms belong to the general public, and no one claims their usage for themselves. They also fail to sufficiently distinguish the mark as a source of goods and services.

Sometimes, the applicant may overcome a genericness refusal if they are able to present a secondary meaning of the mark, such as one created by the inclusion of a pun, but generally speaking, a genericness refusal is very hard to overcome. Unlike descriptive marks, generic marks cannot be registered even on the Supplemental Register.

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