Monday, September 08, 2008

"GANGA" Merely Descriptive of Department Store Services, Says TTAB, Equivalently

Returning to our "Would you have appealed?" series of decisions, contemplate this double-header. The Board applied the doctrine of foreign equivalents in affirming Section 2(e)(1) refusals of GANGA and GANGA $5 & UNDER, finding the marks merely descriptive of retail department store services. In re M6 Ventures LLC, Serial Nos. 78911566 and 78911613 (August 20, 2008) [not precedential].


Applicant M6 Ventures (located in San Diego) admitted that "ganga" means "bargain," but argued that "ganga" also means "gang" in "Spanglish" and that many other Spanish phrases mean "bargain." Therefore "it is unlikely that American buyers familiar with Spanish would assume that [the mark GANGA] has a descriptive of generic meaning or significance."

The Board first agreed with Examining Attorney Mary D. Munson-Ott that the word "bargain" is merely descriptive of Applicant's services. Not surprisingly, Internet excerpts showed use of the word "bargain" in connection with retail store services, and a number of third-party registrations contain disclaimers of "bargain" for retail store services. A dictionary definition of "bargain" added to the pile. Clearly, consumers would understand that the word "bargain" describes a "significant feature of such stores, namely, that they feature discounted or low price merchandise."

There was no real dispute that "ganga" means "bargain" , nor any argument by Applicant that "ganga" is an obscure Spanish term. The fact that "ganga" may have different meanings in other contexts is not controlling.

Likewise, the mark GANGA $5 & UNDER [$5 & UNDER disclaimed] is merely descriptive of the services: "it forthwith conveys an immediate idea of a feature of such services, namely, that
at least some of the merchandise sold therein retails for five dollars and under."

TTABlog note: Maybe if Applicant had shown that one or more gangs had opened department stores, its argument about the meaning of "ganga" might not have been so quickly discounted. But would "ganga" have been merely descriptive in that case, too?

Anyway, for other meanings of "ganga," see the entries in the Urban Dictionary and in Wikipedia.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2008.


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