It’s not uncommon for internet-based services to utilize names referencing their online presence, much like it is not uncommon for the monikers of app-based services to refer to their mobile format. But at what point does a suggestive term become merely descriptive to the point that it can be denied trademark registration? The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit weighed in on that question in a January 4 opinion that overturned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to register the mark “Dotblog.” According to the Federal Circuit, the earlier refusal was in error because it “incorrectly concluded that the proposed mark is descriptive rather than suggestive,” and offered insight into how courts might determine the category into which a proposed mark should be placed.
At issue in the appeal was Driven Innovations’ application to register “Dotblog” as a trademark. The company described the mark as referring to “a service…us[ing] proprietary search techniques to find relevant and current blog posts relating to any given search query and provide….a summary report of what those posts are saying about” that query. The USPTO refused registration, finding it merely descriptive, and confirmed the decision on appeal, concluding that (in the words of the Federal Circuit):
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Clarifies Descriptiveness Standard in Overturning ‘Dotblog’ Trademark Refusal