WYHA? TTAB Finds CALIFORNIA GREEN CLEAN Primarily Geographically Descriptive of Janitorial Services
The USPTO refused registration of the mark CALIFORNIA GREEN CLEAN for "janitorial services; maid services," finding it to be primarily geographically descriptive under Section 2(e)(2). Applicant conceded that CALIFORNIA is a geographical term and that Applicant is located in California, but it contended that the mark is a unitary term composed of the distinctive word "California" and the suggestive term "Green Clean," and, therefore, that the mark in its entirety is suggestive. Would you have appealed? In re California Green Clean Development Company, LLC, Serial No. 77342688 (March 21, 2011) [not precedential].
The test for determining whether a service mark is primarily geographically descriptive has two prongs: (1) the mark (or portion thereof) must be the name of a place known generally to the public; and (2) the public must believe that the services originate in that place (i.e., there must be a services/place association). If the services do in fact originate from the place named, the requisite services/place association may be presumed.
The Board commended Examining Attorney Daniel Capshaw for the clear, concise, and organized manner in which he submitted the PTO's evidence, which included pages from Applicant's website, newspaper articles, and third-party website pages using the term "green clean" descriptively.
A "sizable number" of third-party registrations submitted by Applicant for marks that include "Green Clean" showed "that the term has a recognized meaning in the field and corroborates the evidence of descriptiveness submitted by the examining attorney." Applicant also submitted three publication in which "Green Clean" is used descriptively. [Why Applicant submitted this evidence is not clear - ed.]
Applicant asserted that the word CALIFORNIA is "distinctive" because it "primarily designates ... a high quality, progressive, environmentally-attuned kind or style of maid and janitorial services, rather than primarily providing information about geographic origin." The Board, however, swept that argument aside, finding that "California" conveys "a readily recognizable geographic significance that is not obscure or remote but rather is generally known to the public."
Applicant also argued that CALIFORNIA GREEN CLEAN is unitary because "when spoken, [it] follows a memorable, elementary musical rhythm and rhyme" and because the three components of the mark have "internal crosssuggestivity" in that "each of the three words is suggestive of the other two." [Huh? - ed.]
No soap, said the Board. It found nothing in the record to support a finding that CALIFORNIA is anything other than a geographic term. Instead it found that the primary significance of CALIFORNIA GREEN CLEAN is geographic, since "[t]he addition of a descriptive term ('Green Clean') to a geographical term does not overcome the primary geographic significance of the mark as a whole." [Say again? ed.]
In short, it found that "the primary significance of applicant’s mark CALIFORNIA GREEN CLEAN is that applicant’s janitorial and maid services originate from a California-based company."
Moreover, since the services originate at the place named in the mark, the Board presumed an association of applicant's services with California. Furthermore, it found that "consumers for applicant's services would reasonably believe that those services originate from a California-based entity."
And so the Board affirmed the refusal.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2011.