SOCIAL SECURITY ANNUITY Merely Descriptive of Retirement Planning Services, Says TTAB
Nine out of ten Section 2(e)(1) mere descriptiveness appeals result in affirmance of the refusal. This is one of them. The Board upheld a refusal to register SOCIAL SECURITY ANNUITY, finding it merely descriptive of "financial planning and retirement planning services" [SOCIAL SECURITY disclaimed]. Applicant argued that the mark is incongruous, or merely suggestive, but to no benefit. In re Joshua David Mellberg, LLC, Serial No. 76717806 (March 23, 2017) [not precedential].
Applicant maintained that it would take a "mental leap" for a consumer to perceive that SOCIAL SECURITY ANNUITY "represents the combination of both social security benefits and annuity strategies ... two concepts that are not naturally associated together."
Examining Attorney Thomas Young relied on dictionary definitions of "annuity" [A contract or agreement by which one receives fixed payments on an investment for a lifetime or for a specified number of years], and on third-party web pages referring to Social Security as being an "annuity" program. Seven websites referred to this concept with the exact term SOCIAL SECURITY ANNUITY.
The Board found that Social Security "has indeed been interpreted as a type of 'annuity' program" to the extent that it provides fixed payments on a prior investment of funds. Furthermore, even if consumer would perceive the term SOCIAL SECURITY ANNUITY as referring to services that include both "Social Security" and "annuity" discussions, the term is still merely descriptive. There is nothing incongruous about the combination of those two terms in relation to the recited services.
The Board therefore affirmed the refusal.
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Text Copyright John L. Welch 2017.