What Are Descriptive Trademarks?
Descriptive trademarks are words, phrases or designs that describe the characteristics, functions, ingredient, quality, size, uses, or other elements of the product or service. These descriptive words, phrases or designs do not distinguish the source of the products or services and do not function as a trademark. However, context can be an important determining factor in a USPTO examining attorney opinion as to whether your proposed trademark is descriptive or not. For example, a descriptive term that would be trademarks is illustrated by the following use of the term “Toboggan.” If you were going to use “Toboggan” to describe the sled you are going to sell, this would be held to be descriptive of the product and unregistrable. However, if you change the context of the term as used to identify the product and used “Toboggan” to describe a line of designer jeans, this would not be descriptive of the products as associated with the trademark. Changing the context of a given term used for your trademark can alter the decision of the examining attorney as to whether it will be deemed descriptive.