Thursday, February 04, 2010

TTAB Affirms 2(e)(2) Geographical Descriptiveness Refusal of "US PATIENT REGISTRY" for Medical Information Database

Rejecting Applicant's contention that the term "US" in US PATIENT REGISTRY would be perceived as meaning "we," the Board affirmed a Section 2(e)(2) refusal to register, finding the mark primarily geographically descriptive of Applicant's services: "providing a database of health and medical information" [PATIENT REGISTRY disclaimed]. In re Milwaukee Institute, Inc., Serial No. 77476467 (January 28, 2009) [not precedential].

Applicant maintained that the primary significance of "US" is not geographic. It urged that "US" without periods has a different meaning than U.S.: it connotes 'the objective case of 'we'" and so the mark denotes "a patient registry for all of us."

Examining Attorney Simon Teng submitted dictionary definitions, Internet excerpts, and third-party registrations that convinced the Board that "US" denotes the United States and that "the geographic meaning is its primary meaning."

We acknowledge that "US" also means "we." However, the question of whether the mark's primary significance is a geographic location must be determined not in the abstract but in the context of the mark, in relation to the services with which it is used, and from the perspective of the relevant public for those services.

The Board found that "[t]he relevant public is likely to believe that applicant's database provides access to patient records anywhere in the United States or throughout the United States." [What's the difference? - ed.]

The Board was not persuaded by Applicant's imaginative argument that its database will "provide patients with a community of interest based on common experience/attributes of those suffering from the same disease." According to Applicant, "[a] sense of belonging to this community is a key aspect of what the applicant is intending to accomplish with the use of 'US', the objective case of 'we.'"

The Board, however, found US PATIENT REGISTRY to be "grammatically awkward," and observed that "it would be quite a stretch for the relevant public, such as patients and their doctors, to associate a database for maintaining medical records with a sense of belonging to a community."

As to the association between the place and the services, since the US is neither obscure or remote, a services/place association is presumed from the fact that Applicant's services originate from the place named [Applicant is based in Milwaukee]. Contrary to Applicant's contention, the fact that its server may not be located in the U.S., or that registering patients may reside elsewhere, is not significant.

And so the Board affirmed the refusal.

TTABlog comment: Do you think Applicant's argument about the meaning of US was worth making? In other words, should this have been a WYHA?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2010.


At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was the argument about "US" worth making? Only if the applicant actually intended US to be perceived as such. This seems highly doubtful.

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

In my view, Applicant's argument is utterly frivolous. The Board erred in dismissing the appeal on the merits, rather than as a sanction. The Board's time would be better spent considering real arguments.


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