Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Double WYHA? CAFC Affirms TTAB: "NATIONAL CHAMBER" Merely Descriptive of Chamber of Commerce Services

In a precedential ruling, the CAFC upheld the TTAB's affirmance of two refusals to register NATIONAL CHAMBER, finding the mark merely descriptive of certain chamber of commerce-related services. [TTAB decision here]. Would you have appealed to the CAFC? Would you have appealed to the Board in the first instance? In re The Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, 102 USPQ2d 1217 (Fed. Cir. 2012) [precedential].

The Board relied on dictionary definitions and Applicant COC's own website in concluding that:

[i]t takes no mental leap to understand that applicant is using the mark for the services in both applications as a national chamber of commerce, whether promoting the interests of businesspersons or industry on a national level, or connecting local chambers of commerce through a nationwide network.

The TTAB's determination of mere descriptiveness is a factual finding reviewed by the CAFC for substantial evidence. The court concluded that substantial evidence supported the Board's finding under Section 2(e)(1).

The CAFC found that NATIONAL CHAMBER immediately conveys information about a feature or characteristic of at least one of the services designated by COC in each of its two applications. As to one application, NATIONAL CHAMBER is descriptive of "[p]roviding online directory information services featuring information regarding local and state Chambers of Commerce." In the other, NATIONAL CHAMBER describes the "expressly-recited function" of various services listed in the application, such as policy analysis and data analysis, performed "for the purposes of promoting the interests of businessmen and businesswomen."

And so the court affirmed the Board's decision.

TTABlog comment: I think this may be the first double WYHA? in the seven-and-one-half year history of the TTABlog. Actually, there were two refusal that were affirmed twice, so is this really a quadruple WYHA? The mind boggles.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2012.


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