Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NORTH AMERICAN RANGE Primarily Geographically Descriptive of Beef, Says TTAB

Finding that the term "North American Range" refers to "a large area of land in North America where cows of other animals may be kept for the production of beef," the Board affirmed a refusal to register the mark NORTH AMERICAN RANGE for beef on the ground that the mark is primarily geographically descriptive of the goods. In re Laura's Lean Beef Company LLC, Serial No. 77712445 (June 8, 2011) [not precedential].

To support a Section 2(e)(2) refusal, the PTO must show that the mark's primary significance is a generally-known geographical location, and that the relevant public would likely believe that the goods came from that location (i.e., a goods/place association).

Examining Attorney James A. Rauen relied on dictionary definitions of "range" and "North America" and on Internet evidence showing use of the terms "range beef," "range beef cows," and "range cattle." However, he did not provide evidence that "North American Range" is a geographic location. Applicant asserted that "North American Range" is a "mystical location contrived by the Applicant."

Nonetheless, the Board found that the mark "combines a geographically descriptive term with a merely descriptive term," without creating any unique or incongruous meaning when used with beef. Guided by the Examining Attorney's proffered definitions, "it follows that the term 'North American Range' refers to a large area of land in North America where cows or other animals may be kept for the production of beef." This finding is bolstered by the evidence of use of the terms "range beef cattle," or "range beef cows," and discussion of the historical "range era."

The Board concluded that "North American Range" is primarily geographically descriptive of beef that comes from range beef cattle.

The Examining Attorney presumed a goods/place association because Applicant is located in Kentucky, which is in North America. Applicant argued that "North American Range" is obscure and "could conceivably be the source of a wide range of goods." But given the definitions of record, the Board found North American Range to be neither remote nor obscure. "Potential customers will view the mark as designating the entire North American region."

And so the Board found that the public is likely to believe that Applicant's beef originates in the place identified by the mark, and it affirmed the refusal to register.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2011.


At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Scott E. Kamholz said...

The Applicant has Supplemental Registration Nos. 3358239 "AMERICAN RANGE" and 3216634 "AMERICAN RANGE NATURAL BEEF" for beef, both of which faced similar refusals for being primarily geographically descriptive.

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This opinion surprised me twice. First, I thought North American Range was synonymous for the North American Prairie. It turns out there is no place called the North American Range, but there is a place called the North American Prairie. Then, I was surprised by the judges’ decision. One element the PTO examining attorney had to prove was that the mark’s primary significance was a “generally known geographic location.” But the PTO presented no evidence that “North American Range” was a geographic location and my brief search confirmed it’s not a geographic location. What else would be a geographic location? North American Jungle, North American Tundra, North American Veldt? Those aren’t real places either and the significance of a mark like those wouldn’t be a generally known geographic location – because they’re just made up names for made up places.

At 7:57 PM, Blogger John L. Welch said...

I agree that the logic of this opinion is a bit bewildering. I can see "North American" being geographical, but not "Range." But "Range" is apparently merely descriptive of beef, so why not stick with that?


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