May 01, 2014

Annapolitan Mumbo Jumbo: The TTAB, Distinctiveness, and the DMV

Rebeccah Gan

©2014. Published in Landslide, Vol. 6, No. 5, May/June 2014, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) occupies a small cluster of hearing rooms on the ninth floor of Madison Building at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia. Many of their opinions tackle issues from far outside the confines of the Mid-Atlantic milieu in which the TTAB holds court. In 2013, for example, the TTAB opined on the geographic descriptiveness of the Belgian village of Achouffe in the context of beer;1 the distinctiveness of the University of Alabama’s houndstooth pattern;2 and the true French owner of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine.3

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