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Archived updates for Friday, August 18, 2006

Collaborative Website Evidence to Be Considered in Context for Trademark Registration

In response to a letter from the President of the International Trademark Association concerning "Use of in Trademark Examination, U.S. Commissioner for Trademarks Lynne Beresford stated on August 7, 2006 that the USPTO's Office of Trademark Quality Review and Training will give examinng attorneys guidance and instruction about the probative value of collaborative web sites with permissive edits. "Such evidence must be considered in light of the natue of the mark, the identified goods and services, the existence of corroborating sources, or the lack thereof," she wrote.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office appreciates your input with respect to the disclaimers and warngs as to the validity or accuracy of information contained on web sites that feature content submitted by members of the public rather than professionals with expertise in particular subject areas.

You request the USPTO to establish a policy that would prohibit the use and citation of such websites by examining attorneys.It is the position of the USPTO that questions of descriptiveness, misdescriptiveness, geographic descriptiveness, scandalousness and other grounds for refusal under the Trademark Act are to be determined on the totaity of the evidence of record. Should such evidence include entres from websites that may contain inaccuracies or unverifiable content, it must be considered in context and evaluated on a case by case basis. . . .

The USPTO continues to support its policy relating to any evidence acquired
from the Internet, as outlned in the Trademark Manual of Examing Procedure (TMEP) Section 710.01(b)(Articles downoaded from the Internet are admissible as
evidence of inormation available to the general public, and of the way in which a term is being used by the public. However, the weight given to this evidence must be carefully evaluated, because the source is often uknown. See In re Total Quality Group Inc., 51 USPQ2d 1474, 1475-76 (TTAB 1999); Raccioppi v. Apogee Inc., 47 USPQ2d 1368, 1370-71 (TAB 1998)).

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