Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"HALF MOON BAY" Primarily Geographically Descriptive For Wine, TTAB Rules

The Board applied its standard Section 2(e)(2) analysis in finding the mark HALF MOON BAY to be primarily geographically descriptive of "wines." It therefore affirmed a refusal to register that word mark HALF MOON BAY, as well as a refusal to register HALF MOON BAY WINERY in the design form shown below, absent a disclaimer of HALF MOON BAY. In re Cotchett, Serial Nos. 78208878 and 78208591 (August 5, 2005) [not citable].

Dictionary and gazetteer references showed that the primary significance of HALF MOON BAY is that of a known geographical location. Half Moon Bay, California, a city of "significant size" (population nearly 9,000) is a "known geographical location" that is "neither obscure nor remote."

Applicant Cotchett stated that his winery is located in Half Moon Bay, California, but the Board declined to rely on the presumption of a goods/place association that applies when the goods in fact come from the place named. "Half Moon Bay, California is the locus of activities, agricultural and manufacturing, which are entirely compatible with the production of wine." Thus the Board concluded that wine would be associated with HALF MOON BAY.

Half Moon Bay State Beach

The Board pointed out that this is not a case where "a strong association of the place named with an industry or institution, overrides the geographical significance when the mark is applied to certain goods or services. *** Simply put, HALF MOON BAY is not Hollywood, Cooperstown or West Point."

Applicant argued that there are other places known as HALF MOON BAY (in Australia, New Zealand, St. Kitts, and Antigua) and therefore that the term is not primarily geographically descriptive of the California location. However, its "evidence" consisted only of web addresses, which the Board found to be wholly inadequate as proof.

"The identification of web addresses alone is insufficient to make content provided on those web sites of record. The content of web sites changes constantly, in many instances minute by minute. Web addresses also change constantly. Indeed entire web sites can disappear without notice, and likewise web addresses can be rendered inactive without notice. Consequently the provision of a mere web address in an attempt to make the content of the associated site of record does not afford any of the certainty or permanence required to establish a record. In re Planalytics Inc., 70 USPQ2d 1453, 1457-58 (TTAB 2004)."

In any case, "the existence of these other apparently obscure places outside the United States ... would be insufficient to refute the conclusion that the primary geographic significance of HALF MOON BAY is the place where applicant is located."

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2005.


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