Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TTAB Affirms Section 2(e)(2) Geographical Descriptiveness Refusal of PITTSBURGH GLASS WORKS for Glass

The Board affirmed the PTO's Section 2(e)(2) refusal of the mark PITTSBURGH GLASS WORKS, finding it to be primarily geographically descriptive of "glass and laminate windshield and windows for vehicles excluding aircraft." Applicant PGW argued that only 8.9% of its goods are produced in Pittsburgh, PA, but cited no authority to support its position that a Section 2(e)(2) refusal is improper if only a portion of the goods originate in the named location. In re Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, No. 77484850 (April 11, 2012) [not precedential].

The Board began by finding that Pittsburgh is a place generally known to the American public. There was nothing in the record to suggest that Pittsburgh is either obscure or remote. The words GLASS WORKS are highly descriptive of Applicant's goods, and the presence of these words does not serve to detract from the primary significance of the mark as a whole under Section 2(e)(2).

PGW introduced evidence that Pittsburgh is the most misspelled city in the country [I would have guessed Cinncinnatti Cincinatti Cincy - ed.], and it pointed to other municipalities named Pittsburgh (e.g., North Dakota), but without any supporting evidence as to their size or significance.

Thus as to the first prong of the Section 2(e)(2) test, the Board found that the primary significance of the applied-for mark is a well-known geographic place, namely, Pittsburgh, PA.

The second prong asks whether purchasers would make a goods/place association. PGW acknowledged that its headquarters are in Pittsburgh. Furthermore, three of its manufacturing facilities are located within 100 miles of Pittsburgh. Based on the totality of the evidence, the Board found that "at least some of applicant's goods" originate in Pittsburgh. Therefore, the Board may presume that purchasers would make a goods/place association with that city. Moreover, Applicant chose the name PITTSBURGH GLASS WORKS to associate itself with the city, which has been known as "the center of glassmaking," reinforcing the goods/place association.

PGW did not present sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption of a goods/place association. It argued that only 8.9% of its goods come from Pittsburgh but, as noted above, it provided no authority to show that this fact serves to avoid the Section 2(e)(2) bar.

As to the other towns named Pittsburgh, there was no evidence that they are anything other than remote and obscure. As to the misspelling of Pittsburgh, PGW provided no evidence to show that this makes any difference here. Nor was there evidence that consumers, although informed as to which facility produced the goods, will not associate Pittsburgh with the goods.

The Board therefore affirmed the refusal to register.

TTABlog comment: Pittsburgh - first in glass, first in steel, last in the National League.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2012.


At 11:19 AM, Blogger jrmurray3 said...

As a lifelong Pirate fan, I have to differ with your conclusion: we are second-to-last in the Central Division and third-to-last in the NL. Hey, we have to find comfort where we can (particularly after the TTAB's affirming the refusal).


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