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A Place Unknown

One of the often cited reasons for denying trademark registration is the contention that a certain mark is “geographically deceptively misdescriptive” which involves situations where a proposed mark includes or is principally made up of a geographic indicator material to the consumer’s decision to purchase those particular goods or services but the goods or services are in fact not derived from that particular geographic region.  Marks such as “boston baked beans”  for example, or “Colorado steaks” may be rejected from registration if the USPTO concludes that the reason a consumer would purchase such goods is the (mistaken) belief that the goods emanate from those areas.  While there may be a basis to register geographically deceptively misdescriptive marks that have been in use pre NAFTA (circa 1993), the majority of claims these days would be denied.  As a result, businesses hoping to trade off of well-known geographic locales had better be prepared to move there if they want to register such marks.

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