What is Section 2(e)(3) Refusal - Geographically Deceptively Misdescriptive?

Photo of Jan Buza

Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

If you've received a Section 2(e)(3) refusal, it means the USPTO is denying the registration of your trademark because it considers your mark to be geographically deceptively misdescriptive, meaning providing a false claim about the origin or characteristics of your goods and/or services. In particular, it means that:

a) the term identifying an actual geographical location is of primary significance within the mark,
b) the goods and/or services provided do not originate in the said location,
c) purchasers would be likely to believe the goods and/or services do, in fact, originate in the said location (for example, if the geographical area is known for producing the given goods/services),
d) this misrepresentation is likely to have a substantial influence on purchasing decisions.

This type of office action is especially difficult to overcome since even if, suppose, you could correct the USPTO and prove your goods and/or services originate in the location, that would lead the USPTO to issue another refusal based on Section 2(e)(2) for being Primarily Geographically Descriptive, i.e. being merely descriptive of the origin of goods and/or services provided.

Therefore, to overcome this office action, you would have to prove there is no significant association between the location and your goods/services or provide consumer surveys or declarations showing that consumers are not likely to be deceived by the geographic term.

It's worth mentioning that not all marks containing a geographical location will be refused by the USPTO. If the location is combined with other strong and distinct elements, it may register (preventing point a) by not playing a significant role in the overall impression of the mark).

If you received a Section 2(e)(3) refusal, it's advisable to consult a trademark attorney who can go through your options with you and advise on the best course of action.

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