Reasons for Trademark Application Rejection

Reasons for Trademark Application Rejection

A registered trademark can help the trademark owner prevent unauthorized use of the mark and create a valuable intangible asset for the company. However, the trademark registration process is long typically taking anywhere between 12-18 months to know the final status of a filed trademark application. Since, the trademark application process takes such a long time, many businesses begin building a brand around a mark while the trademark application is still pending. If the trademark application is finally approved and the mark is registered, then the efforts spent on brand building is protected. However, if for some reason the mark is not registered, then there is a likelihood for the brand to be under threat. Hence, we look at some of the top reasons for trademark application rejection, so these mistakes can be avoided while choosing a business name or trade name.

Generic Terms

Common used words or terms that are usually found in dictionaries cannot be trademarked. For example, a company cannot trademark the word “CHAIR” to sell chairs. Since, chair is a generic term for the product, one company cannot be given the right to use the generic term exclusively.

Descriptive Terms

Words that are commonly used to describe a product can also not be trademarked as it would be considered a descriptive term. For example, the mark COLD is likely to be rejected for marketing beverages as being descriptive. If a company is given the exclusively right to market its beverages using the term COLD, it would be unfair. Hence, such descriptive terms for products or services cannot be trademarked.

Also, qualitative or praise terms such as RAPID, BEST, CLASSIC or INNOVATIVE cannot be trademark unless it is part of an otherwise distinctive mark.

Deceptive Trademarks

Deceptive trademarks are marks that may deceive or mislead consumers as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the product. For instance, a trademark that resonates with cotton for a polyester product would be rejected as a deceptive trademark.

Offensive Terms

Trademarks that contain offensive terms or words that are contrary to public order or morality cannot be registered. Also, words and marks that are considered to be offensive or violate commonly-accepted norms of morality are generally not allowed to be registered as trademarks.


Marks Similar to an Existing Trademark

Many trademark applications are rejected because they could be in conflict with an existing registered trademark. Having two identical trademark is contrary to the intellectual property rules and would cause confusion among consumers. Hence, any trademark that is similar or could potential be confused with an existing trademark would not be registered.

Official Marks

Trademarks that contain official names, flags, armorial bearings, official hallmarks and emblems of states and international organizations cannot be trademarked as they contain elements that are protected under National Regulations.

Choosing a Business Name

To improve the chances of choosing a business name that can be trademarked, follow the checklist below:

  1. Ensure that the mark does not fall under any of the categories listed above.
  2. Perform a trademark search to ensure there are no similar trademarks.
  3. Perform a domain name search to ensure that the domain is available for the mark – to avoid any cybersquatting in the future.
  4. Get consultation from a trademark expert, if in doubt.

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