TTAB Twin Killing: Surname Refusals of "LAURENTI" and "BREIL" Upheld
The TTAB turned a 2(e)(4) double play on May 11, 2006, finding the marks LAURENTI and BREIL to be primarily merely surnames for food items and horological instruments, respectively. In re Phoenix Intangibles Holding Co., Serial Nos. 76562080 and 76587659 [not citable], and In re Binda Int'l S.A., Serial No. 78313893 [not citable].
Judge Bucher penned both opinions; not surprisingly, the legal discussion in the two decisions is the same. The Board relied on its standard four-factor Benthin analysis: rareness, connection, meaning, and "look and feel." In re Benthin Management GmbH, 37 USPQ2d 1332 (TTAB 1995).
As to LAURENTI, the PTO presented "hundreds of LAURENTI surname references from the USFIND database and from genealogical websites." Applicant Phoenix Intangibles argued that LAURENTI ranks 62,511th in popularity in the U.S., but the Board was unimpressed: "this ranking means only that many persons in the U.S. have surnames even more rare than 'Laurenti.'" In any case, it deemed LAURENTI to be a rare surname.
The Board found "no clear evidence" that someone named LAURENTI is associated with the applicant, and it noted that Applicant failed to provide any recognized meaning for the term. Finally, LAURENTI has the "look and feel" of a surname because it "looks like an Italian surname" and has a "similar structure and pronunciation to related surnames like Laurent, DeLaurentis and Laurante."
Consequently, the Board upheld the refusal to register LAURENTI.
As to BREIL, the PTO relied on 40 white page listings and 15 NEXIS hits, leading Applicant Binda to argue that BREIL is a "very rare surname" because "out of a population of about 296,217,713 in the United States this is .00001687%." Again, the Board rejected this statistical approach: "If one were to take a statistical measurement of this database for common names like 'Smith' or 'Jones,' each would constitute a relatively small fraction of the total database content."
As to the connection factor, again there was "no clear evidence" that anyone with the surname BREIL is associated with Binda. Applicant conceded that BREIL has no recognized meaning. And as to "look and feel," the Board observed that BREIL "has a similar structure and pronunciation to related Germanic surnames such as BRULE, BRIEL, and BREILING."
The Board concluded that BREIL is primarily merely a surname, albeit a rare one.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2006.