Bars to Trademark Registration

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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What are the Obstacles to Registering my Trademark?

There are several bars to registration.  These include:

Surnames
The name needs to be associated with the product more and associated with the surname less to be granted registration. 

Geographic Marks
The central question is whether the term has primary geographic significance.  There are two types: descriptive and misdescriptive.It does not matter whether a geographic trademark is descriptive or misdescriptive because (1) the trademark is barred if it is primarily descriptive and (2) a defense that the trademark was not descriptive would make it primarily misdescriptive.   

Immoral Marks
Any offensive trademark is barred from registration until it gains so much secondary meaning that the offensiveness is eliminated.  There is little likelihood of the trademark being registered if it is immoral.   

Functionality
A device that is solely functional cannot be registered.  This would exclude others from the function as well.  Those seeking to gain legal protection of a functional device should look to a patent lawyer for advice.  The Supreme Court has said, ?a product feature is functional if it is essential to the use or purpose of the article or if it affects the cost or quality of the article.?  The question to ask is whether the device's sole purpose is useful. 

Should I Consult a Lawyer about my Trademark Issue?

The deadlines and regulations for trademark registration are detailed and strict. An attorney can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill all the requirements. A lawyer can also participate in on-going research to make certain no one else is using or diluting your trademark without your permission. Additionally, if you have an issue of bars to trademark registration, an attorney can guide you through the difficult task of determining whether your particular mark might be barred from registration.   

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Last Modified: 01-11-2012 04:31 PM PST

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