Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season, a beloved time of the year where family and friends gather over delicious meals to share and create memories and to express love and gratitude. Thanksgiving also commences the annual Thanksgiving showdown, when silent (or not so silent) competitiveness emerges in the kitchen and beyond.

Activate: Feast Mode

The USPTO’s conduct sometimes suggests that Thanksgiving is, in fact, competitive and challenging. A USPTO examining attorney rejected an application for ULTIMATE THANKSGIVING CHALLENGE (Application No. 88445011) for being merely descriptive. The applicant, Food Network, intended to use the mark for a televised cooking competition where participants prepared Thanksgiving food. In an office action, the examining attorney wrote that “both the individual components and the composite result are descriptive of applicant’s services and do not create a unique, incongruous, or nondescriptive meaning in relation to the services. Together, the words ‘ULTIMATE THANKSGIVING CHALLENGE’ do not create a unique meaning, but a descriptive one. The words mean the best or most extreme Thanksgiving holiday competition.” Perhaps the examining attorney thought that a Thanksgiving cooking competition show was too similar to the annual family face off that happens in homes across America. Food Network abandoned the application, but The “Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge” television show ran for two seasons.

Don’t make fun of the turkey, it’s been roasted enough today.

Most of us agree that the ultimate Thanksgiving challenge is surviving Thanksgiving dinner. Some of us want a reward for making it through. The USPTO says there is no need to state the obvious, however. The USPTO denied an application for THANKSGIVING FAMILY DINNER SURVIVOR (Application No. 88686100) for clothing products. The USPTO examining attorney refused the application because the attorney decided that the phrase is a frequently-used, humorous expression that merely conveys an informational message and, therefore, does not function as a trademark. Similarly, the USPTO refused an application for THANKSGIVING NAP SWEATER (Application No. 87664935). The USPTO examining attorney decided that the mark was a decorative slogan with little or no particular source-identifying significance. Simply put, eat hard and sleep harder, but we’re all Thanksgiving family dinner survivors and we don’t need a t-shirt or sweater to commemorate the experience.

Is it too soon to be asking about leftovers? Asking for a friend. 🐾

A trademark registration for TINY THANKSGIVING DAY DINNER (Registration No. 5060548) for pet food sits on the Trademark Electronic Search System as a reminder that while we conquer mountains of mashed potatoes, gobble down slices of turkey, and fantasize about our Thanksgiving nap, our pets are never too far away. Don’t let your furry friends feel neglected this Thanksgiving holiday, even the Ultimate Party Thanksgiving Organization, er, that is, the USPTO thinks they deserve some attention. Like many Thanksgiving diners, however, pets still have to battle on Thanksgiving: the USPTO did not approve the application until the applicant disclaimed the exclusive right to use “TINY” or “DINNER” other than as part of the entire phrase “TINY THANKSGIVING DAY DINNER.” Woof!

Final Feast

Sometimes the USPTO leaves applicants feeling thankful. Other times, the application process feels like a battle at the dinner table with your uncle. Accepted or rejected, trademark applications add flavor to all of our intellectual property feasts. Happy Thanksgiving, and may your trademark portfolio be as bountiful as your Thanksgiving dinner table!