The USPTO will refuse an application if the mark does not function as a trademark.
Not all words, names, symbols or devices function as trademarks. For example, a mark which is
merely the generic name of the goods on which it is used cannot be registered. You cannot own the legal rights to the generic word “coffee” for the sale of coffee.
The most common reasons for refusing registration are when the proposed mark:
- Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter.
- May disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons (living or dead), institutions, beliefs,
or national symbols, or bring them into contempt or disrepute.
- Consists of or comprises the flag or coat of arms, or other insignia of the United States, or of any
State or municipality, or of any foreign nation.
- Consists of or comprises a name, portrait or signature identifying a particular living individual,
except by that individual’s written consent.
- Contains the name, signature, or portrait of a deceased President of the United States during the
life of his widow, if any, except by the written consent of the widow.
- Resembles a mark already registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) such that use of the mark on the applicant’s goods or services are likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception.
- Is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of applicant’s goods or services.
- Is primarily geographically descriptive or deceptively geographically misdescriptive of applicant’s goods or services.
- Is primarily merely a surname.
- Matter that, as a whole, is functional.