Tuesday, November 23, 2004

TTAB Gives "PERSONAL POST OFFICE" Its Stamp of Approval

I was thinking about taking a hike to my personal Post Office in Nonantum when I was jolted out of my reverie by In re Luppen Holdings, Inc., Serial No. 75372720 (October 26, 2004 [not citable].

Applicant Luppen overcame not one, not two, but three PTO refusals to register PERSONAL POST OFFICE for "hand-held metal scales for weighing letters and packages."

The Board first dispatched the PTO's Section 2(e)(1) mere descriptiveness refusal. The Examining Attorney contended that the mark "immediately conveys that the identified goods are of a 'personal nature' and 'provide a Post Office function.'" But the Board agreed with Luppen that the mark is merely suggestive:
"The combination of PERSONAL and POST OFFICE results in an incongruous term. A prospective purchaser must use a multistage reasoning process to understand the nature of applicant's goods, i.e., the scales are small in size and are for personal use; the scales are a 'substitute' for weighing letters and packages at a post office; thus the scales are in the nature of a 'personal post office.'"
The Board next shredded the PTO's Section 2(a) false connection refusal, finding that POST OFFICE does not point uniquely to the United States Postal Service in light of Luppen's evidence of other uses of the term -- e.g., various summer camps use "post office" to refer to their internal mail processing facility.

Finally, the Board found that the PTO failed to deliver the goods on its Section 2(d) refusal. The Examining Attorney cited four registrations owned by the U.S. Postal Service, including one for the block letter mark UNITED STATES POST OFFICE, for mail services and retail services featuring "mailing materials." The Board, however, concluded that POST OFFICE is "highly descriptive or generic of registrant's services," and is "not a basis for finding the marks in their entireties to be similar." As to the goods and services, the Board observed (somewhat questionably) that hand-held metal scales are "very different" from the stationery, mailing materials, and promotional type items that the U.S. Postal Service sells, and further that such scales are not related "in any meaningful way to the services in the cited registrations."

I have no quarrel with the Board's decision, except for the very last part. I would not be shocked to find the U.S.P.S. selling hand-held metal scales right alongside the bubble wrap and padded envelopes that line the walls of my personal Post Office.


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