Tuesday, November 06, 2012

WYHA? TTAB Affirms Mere Descriptiveness Refusal of "MultiAccount" for Debit Cards

Examining Attorney Helene Liwinski issued a Section 2(e)(1) refusal to register the mark MultiAccount, in standard character form, finding it to be merely descriptive of electronic and magnetic ID cards for use in connection with payment services, magnetic coded gift cards, magnetically encoded debit cards, magnetically encoded key cards, and pre-paid telephone calling cards. She maintained that "multi" means "multiple," "account" means account, and the compounding of the two words does not change their descriptive meaning. Would you have appealed? In re Dynamics Inc. Serial No. 85050940 (October 9, 2012) [not precedential].

Dictionary definitions, Internet excerpts, and Applicant's own website (displaying the photo shown above) convinced the Board that the mark immediately conveys the information that Applicant's card may be used with more than one account.

Applicant Dynamics argued that because (existing) debit cards are linked only to a single account, consumers do not have "any understanding regarding the use of the mark in relation to more than one accounts" since no such devices exist in the marketplace. The Board was not impressed for two reasons: first , "MultiAccount" immediately tells the consumer that the card may be used with more than one account. Second,, even if applicant were the first and only user of MultiAccount, the mark is still descriptive of the goods.

Dynamics contended that the Internet articles were merely suggestive of the mark's meaning, but the Board disagreed. The articles "show that the writers use the term MultiAccount for its primary descriptive meaning, thus demonstrating that the compound term does not have a new meaning or incongruous meaning (e.g., 'The MultiAccount lives up to its name, allowing you to use two cards without carrying two cards,' ...)."

And so the Board affirmed the refusal.

TTABlog comment: Well, would you have?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2012.


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