Geographic Certification Mark Inherently Distinctive
In Tea Board of India v. The Republic of Tea, Inc., Opposition No. 91118587 (August 23, 2006), the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sustained a Section 2(d) "likelihood of confusion" opposition to the registration of the mark DARJEELING NOUVEAU for tea (where "DARJEELING" was disclaimed) in view of an earlier certification mark registration for DARJEELING by the Tea Board of India.
According Administrative Trademark Judge Holtzman,
Ordinarily, a term that describes the geographic source of a product is not protectable without a showing of acquired distinctiveness. However, Section 2(e)(2) of the Trademark Act which prohibits registration of a mark that is primarily geographically descriptive of an applicant's goods, provides a
specific exception for marks used to certify indications of regional origin under Section 4 of the Act. Thus, the presumption that a geographic term is inherently weak does not attach to geographic terms that are used to certify regional origin. . . . A mark that is registered on the Principal Register is entitled to all Section 7(b) presumptions including the presumption that the mark is distinctive and moreover, in the absence of a Section 2(f) claim in the registration, that the mark is inherently distinctive for the goods. Thus, we consider DARJEELING inherently distinctive as a certification mark indicating geographic origin as it inher identifies the geographic source of the tea.