Is Stylization of "GRUNGE" Mark Distinctive? You Be the TTAB Judge!
Is the stylization of the word GRUNGE in the mark shown below sufficiently distinctive in character to support a Principal Registration for various clothing items [GRUNGE disclaimed]? The Board recognized that this determination is a subjective one, so what do you think? In re Grapevine Intellectual Properties, LLC, Serial No. 77141442 (December 18, 2008) [not precedential].
During proscution, the Examining Attorney provided a dictionary definition of the term GRUNGE as "a style of dress, popularized by fans of grunge music, typified by second-hand clothes worn in layers, heavy footwear, unkempt hair, and an overall scruffy appearance."
Applicant did not dispute the descriptiveness of GRUNGE, but contended that "[e]ach letter in the word 'grunge' is displayed in its own highly stylized typeface, characterized by erratic edges and inconsistent sizes and thicknesses, creating a striking commercial impression separate and apart from the word portion of the mark." The Examining Attorney disagreed.
The Board observed that "in order for a term otherwise unregistrable to be capable of distinguishing an applicant's goods, the presentation of the term must be sufficiently distinctive so as to create a commercial impression separate and apart from the unregistrable components whereby it is possible to disclaim those unregistrable components and still have a mark which is registrable as a whole."
The determination of whether the stylization of an otherwise unregistrable designation is sufficiently distinctive in character to “rescue” the designation as a whole is a subjective one.
The Board compared the GRUNGE mark to the four marks shown below, each of which was previously found to have an inherently distinctive stylization:
So how did it come out? Read the decision.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2008.