What are geographically descriptive trademarks in the US?

Geographically descriptive trademarks are generally not registrable on the Principal Register in the US.

The USPTO attorney will use the following test to determine if a trademark is geographically descriptive:

  1. The trademark is the name of a geographic location
  2. The products or services come from the placed identified by the trademark or are made in the pace named in the trademark
  3. Potential customer would be likely to believe that the products or services originate in the geographic place identified in the mark

However if the place is not known or very remote, the public is unlikely to make this association.

Tip: If your trademark is geographically descriptive, and you cannot change or add another word to make it not descriptive as a whole there is one trick you can do.  In order to reduce the risk of getting an objection from the Trademarks Office it’s best to file a trademark that may be considered geographically descriptive as a combined logo (Meaning word mark plus an image).

For example, NOOGA OUTDOORS was considered to be unregistrable on the ground that “NOOGA” is a commonly used nickname for Chattanooga, Tennessee and the term “OUTDOORS” does not diminish the mark’s primary geographic significance. However, the same trademark didn’t receive a geographically descriptive objection when it was filed a combined logo: Geographically descriptive trademarkbecause as a whole it was no longer just geographically descriptive as it also contained other graphic elements (mountains, dumb-bell and circle).

Likewise, MICHIGAN BRAIN HEALTH for medical clinic services would be considered geographically and overall descriptive but how to register a descriptive trademarkwould be registrable on the Principal Register (with a disclaimer of “Michigan Brain Health”).

A trademark that will most likely be refused by the USPTO as being geographically descriptive and therefore not registrable on the Principal Register (and not eligible for Amazon Brand Registry) may go through in the UK.

We can help you to identify if your mark would be considered geographically descriptive and will help to make suggestions how to avoid this refusal.

Can't find the answer that you are looking for?

Submit your question and email below and you will be notified once your question is answered


To open in a new tab, click: What are geographically descriptive trademarks in the US?

By |2019-05-18T23:55:12+00:00May 18th, 2019||0 Comments

About the Author:

Leave A Comment

Anita photo

Anita Mar
CEO and Registered Trademark Agent at Trademark Angel Inc.

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter to get inside tips about trademarks and also to benefit from our promotions. We promise we don’t spam.

When you subscribe, you will receive a PowerPoint presentation of our tips: “Trademark Usage Rules”.