USING A GEOGRAPHICAL TERM IN YOUR TRADEMARK MAY PREVENT REGISTRATION
Business owners may find it useful to use in their trademark the city or state in which the business is located.
The inclusion of a geographical identifier may help consumers determine not only where the business is located but also whether is nearby the consumer's location for convenience purposes. Examples might be YELLOWSTONE OUTFITTERS and HOLLYWOOD LAWYERS ONLINE.
However, what might be good for consumers might not be good for trademark registration purposes.
Generally, one may not register a primarily geographically descriptive trademark. A trademark is primarily geographically descriptive when: (1) the primary significance of the mark is a generally known location, (2) the goods or services originate from the known location, and (3) consumers would likely believe that the goods or services originate from the known location.
To highlight this issue, the professional football team formerly known as the WASHINGTON REDSKINS applied to register WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM.
The US trademark office has initially rejected the application because WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM is primarily geographically descriptive.
According to the trademark office, a publication shows that Washington is a generally known place. The applicant's website shows that the football team is for the Washington DC area.
Even though the application was rejected, it should be noted that the application was for registration on the Principal Register. The rejection could be avoided by amending the application for registration on the Supplemental Register.