What Are Abbreviations, Acronyms, Initials and Misspellings?
Abbreviations, acronyms, initials and misspellings are typically considered descriptive if the phrase or term it stands for is found descriptive and consumers find them “substantially synonymous” with that descriptive wording. Trademark applicants have the burden of showing that the abbreviations, acronyms, initials and misspellings used have meanings that would allow the public to be aware of its source.
This general rule applies to a misspelling or a phonetic spelling of a generic trademark term. If the misspelling or a phonetic spelling is used to represent a generic term, it will be found to be a generic trademark as well. Thus, SK8 Bored used for a skateboard will be ruled descriptive of the product and will not achieve trademark registration. Other types of variations, like changing a word from a noun to a verb or an adjective, or using foreign language spellings, are also considered generic. If it is synonymous with the descriptive word or phrase, it will be found to be descriptive and will not receive protection from trademark law.
Abbreviations, acronyms, initials and misspellings are usually found to be descriptive trademarks and are usually not afforded legal trademark protection. Like all descriptive terms, the context in which abbreviations, acronyms, initials and misspellings are used weigh on an examining attorney’s ruling of descriptiveness.