Thursday, June 28, 2018

TTAB Affirms Descriptiveness Refusal of “USR ID” For Security Software and Services

[This is a guest post by Susmita Gadre, a rising 3-L at Northeastern University School of Law, and a summer associate at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C.]. The Board affirmed a Section 2(e)(1) refusal of registration of the mark USR ID for security, authentication, and identification software and services, finding that the mark immediately describes a feature or characteristic of Applicant’s goods and services. In re Universal Secure Registry LLC, Serial No. 87113726 (June 22, 2018) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge George C. Pologeorgis).

Examining Attorney Katrina J. Goodwin contended that consumers would likely pronounce “USR” as “user”. The evidence, which included several websites, showed that the term “user ID” is commonly used in connection with authentication services.

The applicant made several innovative arguments in response, claiming that the misspelling makes the mark unpronounceable, the mark is not found in the dictionary, is a proprietary acronym of the company name, is not descriptive of the full extent of applicant’s actual services, and is a double entendre.

The Board was unconvinced by these arguments. There is no way to predict how the public will pronounce a mark, but considering applicant’s goods and services, they are likely to see it as the phonetic equivalent of the word “user”. Finding a mark in the dictionary is not necessary for it to be descriptive, and here the Examining Attorney found an acronym dictionary showing that “USR” is a common abbreviation for “user”. The Board further found that in the context of the goods and services, consumers would be more likely to see it as such, instead of an acronym for the company name. Applicant argued that the mark is not descriptive since the services include a three-factor authentication system, but the Board reiterated that a mark does not need to describe the full scope of services in order to be descriptive. Finally, there was also no evidence to show that the mark is a double entendre.

And so the Board affirmed the refusal to register.

Read comments and post your comment here.

TTABlog comment: How did you first pronounce the mark?

Text Copyright John L. Welch and Susmita Gadre 2018.


At 8:52 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I wonder how this would have come out if the applicant was actually using USR as an acronym. For example, if all of its marketing materials associated USR with something like "Ultimate Security Response."

I would say that would be evidence to support at least a double entendre, but I could also see Board effectively disregarding such "extrinsic evidence."

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pronounced the letters U S R, not the word "user."


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