Examiners are People, Too

Last weekend, I rode my bike to DUMBO[1] to confirm that I’m nowhere near cool enough to spend time there. My suspicions were borne out before I even entered the local exceptionally cool coffee house (ECCHO), so I left immediately to write a trademark blog instead. When facing your lack of cool, go back to what you do well.

I knew I wasn’t cool enough because outside the ECCHO was this:

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From the relative safety of my LES[2] office I checked to see whether Dog Parker, Inc., the maker of the DOG PARKER, had been able to register their trademark, which seemed to me to be “merely descriptive,” which would prevent its being registered.

I was surprised that they had succeeded in registering DOG PARKER for “Pet boarding services” with only a disclaimer for the word “dog”.[3] The examiner didn’t even question whether DOG PARKER was “merely descriptive” for selling use of this temporary dog house.

So, was I wrong? Was the Trademark Office wrong?

No one was wrong. It’s just that Trademark Office examiners are individuals and trademark law is a bit of an art, rather than a science. A different examiner may have reached a different conclusion and issued an office action refusing to register the trademark.

That said, if I were Dog Parker, Inc., I would definitely come up with a good generic phrase for this sort of thing so that DOG PARKER doesn’t become the generic phrase and they lose their rights.

 

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[1] DUMBO is an acronym for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. No neighborhood is cool until it has an acronym.

[2] Lower East Side. I’m almost cool enough to have an office on the LES. Close enough to fake it, anyway.

[3] A disclaimer means that the owner of the trademark doesn’t claim any exclusive rights to a particular word, in this case “dog.”

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