Monday, January 09, 2006

TTAB Says "VAULTZ" for Purses Not Primarily Merely a Surname

The rarity of the surname "Vaultz" and its suggestiveness for "purses" led the TTAB to conclude that the mark VAULTZ is not primarily merely a surname. In re IdeaStream Computer Products LLC, Serial No. 76543788 (December 27, 2005) [not citable].

VAULTZ CD wallet

The Examining Attorney found, at best, 60 listings of "Vaultz" as a surname, many for individuals from the New Orleans area. Some of the PTO's evidence was well out-of-date, while some came from "websites such as those hosting message boards or family reunions," which websites are likely to have limited public exposure. In sum, "it is clear that VAULTZ is a rare surname."

As to the meaning of the term, the Board agreed with Applicant IdeaStream that VAULTZ is suggestive in relation to the goods because VAULTZ is the phonetic equivalent of "vaults" and implies that "the purses sold under the mark will be solidly constructed and contain certain features that will protect their contents."

Finally, the Board rejected the Examining Attorney's assertion that VAULTZ has the look and feel of a surname, noting that there is "no evidence properly of record to support this contention." The Board oddly observed:

"because VAULTZ is the phonetic equivalent of a suggestive term, it would not be perceived as a surname, and thus would not have the look and feel or sound of a surname. Instead, VAULTZ has the look and feel of a misspelling of the non-surname word "vaults."

The Board therefore reversed the Section 2(e)(4) refusal to register.

TTABlog comment: On the look-and-feel issue, the Examining Attorney might have pointed to the former basketball player with the New York Nets (in the old American Basketball Association), Billy Paultz. Vaultz? Paultz? Same difference.

Billy Paultz

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2006.


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