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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a descriptive mark?

Your mark may be refused registration if it is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of your goods and/or services. A descriptive mark is a proposed mark that merely describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the specified goods or services. Such marks are normally not protected by the USPTO in order to prevent the owner of a mark to inhibit competition in the sale of those products or services, and to maintain the freedom of the public to use the language in question. For example, if your product is a sweet snack product, the USPTO will not register a mark along the lines of "sweet snacks" or "sugary snacks," because the mark merely describes the product, and the USPTO will not want to prevent other users from also using "sweet snack" in relation to their products.
However, if your mark is deemed to be descriptive, you have the option of registering your mark in the Supplemental Register. A registration on the Supplemental Register grants its owner the right to use the ® symbol. Although the Supplemental Register does not confer all the benefits of the Principal Register, it may nevertheless be valuable to the trademark owner. Furthermore, if the trademark owner has used the mark sufficiently, and the mark has acquired distinctiveness, the owner may submit another application to get into the Principal Register and, and the mark may be granted a Principal registration with all the protections it affords.
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