TTAB Affirms Disclaimer Requirement of "VILLAGE" in "HEALTH VILLAGE" Mark for Real Estate Services
The Board affirmed a refusal to register the mark HEALTH VILLAGE for rental, sales, management, and development of real estate, based on Applicant's refusal to disclaim the word VILLAGE. Examining Attorney Lydia M. Belzer maintained that VILLAGE identifies a feature or characteristic of the services because they "pertain to villages and/or to buildings set up in such a manner as to form villages." In re Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc., Serial Nos. 77589735 and 77589737 (May 20, 2010) [not precedential].
The Board agreed:
The word VILLAGE clearly and unambiguously describes a significant feature of the real estate services in that it clearly denotes a particular location involving a grouping of residences and other buildings in the immediate vicinity of each other, which is directly pertinent to the rental and leasing, management, development and sales of real estate. We also find that the word VILLAGE when combined with the word HEALTH does not lose its descriptive significance.
Applicant contended that VILLAGE "merely describes the organization or location of building or structures" and is "one or more steps" from describing the services. The Board disagreed:
Here the term VILLAGE, as applicant apparently acknowledges, immediately conveys the information that the properties that applicant is renting, leasing, managing, developing or selling are located in a village, or are organized in such a manner as to resemble the form of a village.
The Board noted that the Board's history of disclaimers as to the word VILLAGE is "inconclusive," but in any case decisions by Examining Attorneys in other applications are not binding on the Board.
And so the Board affirmed the refusal.
TTABlog comment: What do you think about this one? Adventist is apparently developing a complex in Winter Park, Florida that one could consider to be a "village." But where's the evidence of that in the record? Otherwise, shouldn't there be some evidence that real estate developers develop "villages?"
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2010.