This article was originally published to Seyfarth’s The Blunt Truth blog.
Republic Technologies (NA) LLC (“Republic”) filed an application to register the proposed mark 4:20 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Republic amended its goods twice during prosecution of the application and ultimately sought to register “tobacco; cigarette papers; cigarette filters; cigarette tubes; cigarette rolling machines; handheld machines for injecting tobacco into cigarette tubes; machines allowing smokers to make cigarettes by themselves; none of the foregoing containing or for use with cannabis” (emphasis added). The USPTO alleged that consumers would understand 4:20 to mean cannabis, the mark misdescribes non-cannabis related goods, and consumers would believe the misrepresentation. Therefore, the USPTO refused registration alleging that the mark was deceptively misdescriptive of the goods in the application. Republic appealed the decision to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”). But the Board saw through the smoke of Republic’s arguments and affirmed the refusal.
Republic is a leading provider of smoking accessories. Republic initially filed its application for the mark 4:20 for use in association with the goods “tobacco; cigarette papers; cigarette filters; cigarette tubes; cigarette rolling machines; handheld machines for injecting tobacco into cigarette tubes; machines allowing smokers to make cigarettes by themselves.” Perhaps familiar with the many uses of Republic’s goods, the USPTO refused the application on mere descriptiveness grounds. It alleged that consumers understand 4:20 to mean cannabis and the goods describe a product containing or to be used with cannabis. The USPTO also asked Republic to provide additional information about its goods. In particular, whether the goods contain or would be used in connection with cannabis or marijuana. Continue Reading 4:20 Unfriendly – TTAB Says 4:20 is Deceptively Misdescriptive of Goods Not Used with Cannabis