Thursday, March 25, 2021

TTABlog Test: Is HOSTIING Merely Descriptive of Rental and Lodging Services?

The USPTO refused to register the proposed marks HOSTIING GROUP and HOSTIING, finding them to be merely descriptive of mobile apps for reserving lodging, management of short term rentals, and booking services for temporary lodging. Applicant asserted that "hosting" has several meanings unrelated to lodging rentals or homesharing, and is most frequently associated with website hosting. Moreover, the applicant "purposefully implemented the double ‘ii,’ lending to different pronunciations that relevant consumers could apply and evoking a distinctive commercial impression." How do you think this came out? In re NGD Homesharing, LLC, Serial Nos. 88452729 and 88454104 (March 18, 2021) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Michael B. Adlin).

The Board found that the double "i" in applicant's mark is a "minor misspelling [that] does not change the term’s meaning (or much of anything else in the term )." See, i.e., In re Quik Print, 616 F.2d 523, 205 USPQ 505, 507 n.9 (CCPA 1980) (finding QUIK PRINT merely descriptive of printing and copying services, stating “[t]here is no legally significant difference here between ‘quik’ and ‘quick.’”). The Board observed that HOSTIING "looks almost the same as and would be pronounced similarly or identically to “hosting,” a term commonly used and with a well recognized meaning in connection with Applicant’s identified goods and services."

"Hosting" may have other meanings in the abstract, but proposed mark must be considered in the context of the identified goods and services. Applicant itself uses the word "hosting" to refer to its services.

Applicant pointed to several third-party registrations in which the word "host" is not disclaimed, nor was Section 2(f) invoked. The Board once again pointed out that each application must be assessed based on its own record, and the Board is not bound by prior examination errors in other cases.

The Board unsurprisingly also found the mark HOSTIING GROUP to be merely descriptive because " each component retains its merely descriptive significance in relation to the goods and services, and Applicant does not suggest any alternative commercial impression resulting from the combination of these immediately descriptive terms."

And so the Board affirmed both refusals.

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TTABlogger comment: WYHA?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2021.


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