Beef jerky is one of my favorite snacks, so while strolling through the Minneapolis skyway, I captured the above floor-to-ceiling advertisement to tell another trademark story.
It’s been a while since we’ve written about the importance of brand owners not only thinking hard about their brand names, but also devoting thought and care to the generic name of the goods or services too.
Generic names for goods/services are not ownable or protectable, they are what the thing is, they are free to use by anyone, including direct competitors, as part of the public domain.
Yet, there can be a fair amount of legal strategy in selecting to use the best generic name for a brand that is broad in scope, but is still bite size, memorable, and easily embraced by consumers. Similar strategy is required when seeking federal registration at the USPTO.
For example, if your brand is only currently being offered in connection with “tie tacks,” why not seek federal registration in connection with “jewelry” too, combining broad and narrow?
The far narrower “tie tack” description is a type of “jewelry” so use of the brand name in connection with “tie tacks” also supports use of the more expansive “jewelry” category.
Moreover, both terms are allowed and listed within the USPTO’s Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual (ID Manual), allowing for this broader claim of rights.
Beyond an enhanced scope of rights, doing so would give the brand owner some comfort over time while expanding the offerings to commercially grow into the broader description, subject to any Section 18 challenges, of course.
Turning back to the meat of the story, Jack Link’s has adopted a nice and broad generic yet bite size description to categorize many of its products: Meat snacks. As it happens, or perhaps by design, it is included within the USPTO’s ID Manual too, so a real win-win there.
Also included within Int’l Class 29 of the USPTO’s ID Manual is “Beef Jerky” and more broadly “Jerky,” but at least as of yet, no listing exists for “Protein Snacks”:
What are the odds the USPTO approves “protein snacks” and includes that bite size description of goods within the ID Manual any time soon? Not good, I suspect, know why?
Or, might Jack Link’s be able to convince the USPTO that its Beef Jerky and other Meat Snacks are “protein supplements,” which is an allowed bite size ID for goods in Class 5?