TTAB Test: Is CLASSIC AUTO ROD (Stylized) Merely Descriptive of Auto Dealerships?
The USPTO rejected Daniel Rechtfertig's application to register the mark shown below, for "automobile dealerships," find the mark merely descriptive under Section 2(e)(1). Applicant described the mark as "the words 'Classic Auto Rod' in a chrome-like script having a three-dimensional appearance, with the words stacked to form the word 'CAR' when read vertically." He contended that the combination of the words appearing in an "unexpected fashion," coupled with the visual elements of the design, rendered the mark at most suggestive of the services. How do you think this came out? In re Daniel Rechtfertig, Serial No. 86554004 (October 13, 2016) [not precedential].
Examining Attorney Ahsen Kahn provided various dictionary definitions and website pages demonstrating that each of the constituent words has descriptive significance in connection with automobile dealerships. Moreover, CLASSIC ROD and AUTO ROD are used descriptively to refer to a type of automobile.
The Board found that the combination CLASSIC AUTO ROD "immediately conveys that Applicant's automobile dealerships feature older hotrods." Nothing in the combination is incongruous or would require further information in order for the descriptive significance to be apparent to consumers.
Turning to the stylization of the mark, the determination of whether the display creates a separate and distinctive impression is a subjective one based on the first impression of the viewer. The Board found that neither the word arrangement nor the stylization of the lettering creates a separate and inherently distinctive impression. Despite applicant's contention, the Board did not find the word "CAR" to be readily discernible, since the letter "A" in AUTO appears to be stacked under the letter "L" in CLASSIC. In any event, the word CAR would merely describe applicant's services.
The script lettering, which applicant describes as "chrome-like," is not so striking that it creates a distinctive commercial impression apart from the wording.
The Board therefore concluded that the applied-for mark merely describes the services, and it affirmed the refusal to register.
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Text Copyright John L. Welch 2016.