Trademark News & Screw-ups Stella McCartney Wins Fight Over "Fur Free Fur" Trademark

There is a fine line between descriptive and suggestive trademarks. Both refer to certain features or characteristics of a product or a service. Descriptive trademarks do it more bluntly while suggestive trademarks do it in a more subtle way. Descriptive trademarks are not registrable on the principal register in the U.S. and are not registrable period outside of the U.S. Suggestive trademarks are registrable. Who determines if a mark that hints at the feature or a characteristic of a product or service is descriptive or suggestive? The trademark examiner. Or the appeal board as in this case. The outcome is often unpredictable as the decision could go either way since the standard revolves around whether additional imagination, perception, and thought are required to see the connection between the meaning of the trademark and the features and characteristics of products and services it purports to cover. In this case, the appeal board found that the mark is suggestive and not merely descriptive. I agree.

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