Wednesday, February 04, 2015

TTAB Test: Is WORLDBROWSER Merely Descriptive of an Online Travel Website?

Douglas A. Shachnow applied to register the mark WORLDBROWSER for an online travel information website for travel agents, but the USPTO refused registration, finding the mark merely descriptive of the services under Section 2(e)(1). Mr. Shachnow argued that the mark is a double entendre, one meaning being "an individual who browses the world." How do you think he fared on his trip to the TTAB? In re Douglas A. Shachnow, Serial No. 85717182 (February 2, 2015) [not precedential].

Examining Attorney Karen K. Bush asserted that WORLD "refers to the earth, which merely denotes the scope of the travel information." She also relied on several registrations in which the word "world" is disclaimed for travel-related services. Applicant Shachnow pointed to six registrations in which "world" was not disclaimed, but the Board distinguished those registrations because the marks involved were unitary marks in the form of slogans (e.g., TRAVEL THE WORLD ONE HOP AT A TIME), as to which individual words are not disclaimed.

The Board concluded that WORLD immediately describes a feature of applicant's services, namely that the information relates to world-wide travel.

As for the word BROWSER, both the examining attorney and the applicant provided these definitions: (1) one that browses; (2) a computer program for accessing sites or information on a network (as the World Wide Web). The Board found that, since a "browser program" is the generic name of software that allows one to scroll through documents or databases, and since applicant's services provide a database of world travel information and links to websites, the term "browser" is descriptive of the services.

When combined, the terms WORLD and BROWSER retain their descriptive connotations, and the combination is itself descriptive.

Applicant Shachnow contended that the mark is a double entendre: "on the one hand, an individual who browses the world through traveling and, on the other, goods that allow one to access a website containing information about the world." The Board, however, found, that both meanings are merely descriptive of applicant's services, and so the double entendre argument went nowhere.

[T]he mark WORLDBROWSER immediately conveys a use of Applicant's services, which is to scan through Applicant's website and collection of data thereon to obtain travel information regarding many countries. The other connotation of the mark is that Applicant's services consist of the provision of access to a database relating to world travel information.

And so the Board affirmed the refusal.

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TTABlog note: How did you do? Do you think this is a WYHA?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2015.


At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think it was a WYHA because the double entendre argument was worth pursuing, but still a weak case.


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