TTAB Affirms Genericness Refusal of POMEGRANATEA for Tea-Based Beverages
Argo Tea sought to register POMEGRANATEA as a trademark for "tea-based beverages," but Examining Attorney Michael P. Keating refused registration on the ground of genericness. The Board agreed with the PTO, finding the applied-for term to be generic for "pomegranate-flavored tea," a sub-set of the identified goods. In re Argo Tea, Inc., Serial No. 85011197 (May 9, 2013) [not precedential].
The PTO must establish genericness by "clear evidence," the key issue being whether the relevant public primarily uses or understands the applied-for term to refer to the category or class of goods at issue. Here the "broad genus" in question is tea-based beverages, and the relevant public comprises ordinary consumers who purchase and drink tea.
The Board first found that POMEGRANATEA is the equivalent of "Pomegranate Tea" because the individual words retain their ordinary meaning when compounded. Dictionary definitions, Argo's website, and third-party Internet evidence convinced the Board that POMEGRANATEA, as used by Argo, identifies a type or category of tea-based beverage.
The extensive third-party use makes clear that “Pomegranate Tea” is widely used to refer to pomegranate flavored tea. In short, POMEGRANATEA is the name of a category of tea. Because the term POMEGRANATEA directly names the most important or central aspect of applicant’s tea, that is, that the tea is pomegranate flavored, POMEGRANATEA is generic. And because POMEGRANATEA describes a category of tea-based beverages, it should be freely available for use by competitors.
A term is generic if it refers to narrower category of goods encompassed by the broader identification of goods. See, e.g., In re Central Sprinkler Co., 49 USPQ2d 1194, 1197 (TTAB 1998) (ATTIC for “automatic sprinklers for fire protection ” falls within the narrower category of sprinklers for fire protection of attics). Here, "Pomegranate Tea" is a generic term for pomegranate-flavored tea, which is a sub-category of tea-based beverages.
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Text Copyright John L. Welch 2013.