Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TTAB Finds "PC LAPTOPS" Generic for ... Guess What?

In an enervating 28-page opinion, the Board affirmed a refusal to register the designation PC LAPTOPS for "computers, laptops, and portable computers" and for "retail store services in the field of computer hardware and software," finding the term to be generic for the identified goods and services, or alternatively, merely descriptive under Section 2(e)(1) and lacking acquired distinctiveness. The Board analyzed PC LAPTOPS as a "combined term," allowing consideration of dictionary definitions of the constituent words (as in Gould). But even if viewed as a "phrase" (as in American Fertility), the Board noted, PC LAPTOPS would still be generic. In re PC Laptops, LLC, Serial Nos. 77780768 and 77780823 (November 20, 2014) [not precedential].

Genericness: Not much to look at here. Dictionary definitions of PC and LAPTOP, along with media and public usage of PC LAPTOPS, convinced the Board that the applied-for designation is generic for applicant's goods. Furthermore, a term that is generic for certain goods is likewise generic for services featuring those goods.

Mere Descriptiveness: Applicant feebly contended that PC LAPTOPS may be considered a double entendre because "PC" is defined not only as "personal computer" but also as "politically correct." The Board, however, found nothing in the record to suggest that consumers would associate the concept of political correctness with computers. [Do some people think Apple computers are more "PC" than PC computers? - ed.].

Acquired Distinctiveness: Because PC LAPTOPS is highly descriptive, applicant had a "heavier burden" in demonstrating acquired distinctiveness. Applicant claimed continuous and substantially exclusive use since 1997, extensive advertising, consumer recognition, and recognition by the industry and media. But it failed to provide its advertising expenditures, or any context for comparisons with the industry. Nor did it provide sales volume.

Applicant offered the results of a consumer survey, but the Board accorded it little probative value, since no information was provided as to the methodology employed or the questions asked. "[T]here is nothing in the record to provide a basis for the results provided, or even what those results are intended to signify."

Finally, applicant's evidence of media recognition and industry awards was noted by the Board, but perhaps more important was applicant's failure to show that its use of PC LAPTOPS has been substantially exclusive, since there were "multiple uses by third-parties in a descriptive or generic manner."

The Board concluded that applicant had failed to establish acquired distinctiveness in connection with its identified goods and services.

And so the Board affirmed both refusals.

Read comments and post your comment here

TTABlog query: WYHA?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2014.


Post a Comment

<< Home