"ZIP AND STEAM" Merely Descriptive of Cooking Pouches, Says TTAB, Not Surprisingly
Here's another WYHA decision for our collection. Would you have appealed the TTAB's Section 2(e)(1) mere descriptiveness refusal of ZIP AND STEAM for "cooking containers, namely, plastic cooking bags and pouches?" The Board affirmed the refusal in In re SteamFast Europe Limited, Serial No. 76636092 (September 24, 2008) [not precedential].
Examining Attorney Andrea D. Saunders relied on website pages showing that "bags such as applicant's zip and are often described as having a zipper enclosure, and that food can be cooked by steaming it." Applicant conceded that its bags closed by zipping, but it took issue with the descriptiveness of the word "steam."
"[A]pplicant argues that the bag or pouch is not steamed, 'rather steam is generated within the bag which cooks the contents by steam.' *** In applicant's words, the 'goods are microwave steam cooking bags that can be filled with food to be cooked by the home user and then closed and placed in a microwave oven.'"
Finding Applicant's argument to be mostly hot air, the Board agreed with the PTO that STEAM describes a "key feature or characteristic" of the identified goods: "to generate steam for cooking the contents of the container."
The question, then, was whether the combination of ZIP and STEAM presents a "unique or incongruous" combination? [TTABlog comment: what does "unique" have to do with it? Even "unique" terms can be merely descriptive.] Not surprisingly, the Board answered in the negative.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2008.