Friday, April 29, 2011

TTAB Affirms 2(e)(2) Refusal of EAST COAST for Vehicle Towing Services

Finding the mark EAST COAST to be primarily geographically descriptive of Applicant's "vehicle towing services", the Board affirmed a Section 2(e)(2) refusal to register the mark. In re East Coast Towing & Storage, LLC, Serial No. 76696173 (March 28, 2011)[not precedential].

Examining Attorney Kelley L. Wells relied on dictionary definitions and website pages in contending that "East Coast" means the eastern most part of the USA, and is used to describe the states running along the Atlantic Ocean. Applicant's business is located in Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Applicant argued that EAST COAST is not a known, identifiable geographic location:

it could be the eastern portion of any country bounded by waters, the east coast of Puerto Rico or any of the islands of Hawaii …. Simply because a state has a border on the Atlantic Ocean it does not make the services performed in that state the east coast. A person located in the western part of Virginia would never refer to that locality as the "east coast."

The Board found that EAST COAST conveys a readily recognizable geographic significance. "That it is a regional location does not detract from its geographic significance. *** The primary significance of EAST COAST is a geographic place which is not obscure or remote but, rather, is generally known to the public."

"The fact that EAST COAST may identify more than one geographic location does not necessary detract from the term's primary geographic significance." Although some of the definitions of record indicate that "East Coast" often refers to the urban corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston, this is immaterial because Applicant is located in that corridor.

Because Applicant's services originate in the area named in the mark, the Board "can presume an association of applicant's mark with towing services." Relevant consumers are likely to believe that Applicant's mark indicates the place where its services originate.

The Board therefore concluded that the mark is primarily geographically descriptive of Applicant's services, and it affirmed the refusal.

TTABlog comment: What if the mark were "RIGHT COAST?" Is that a well-known geographic description?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2011.


At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Keith Toms said...

File this in the "what did they expect" category.

As for RIGHT COAST, I think that it would get through because it is not primarily geographic. The double entendre between "right" as in the direction, and "right" as in correct gives it a different primary meaning.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Owen said...

I don't think RIGHT COAST would be a problem, as I've never heard of that colloquialism. I think you'd have a harder time with LEFT COAST, as a number of us here in California do indeed refer to the West Coast in this manner.


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