The State of Tennessee made news recently when it unveiled a new logo. The news wasn’t that Tennessee is adopting a boring, new logo, but the fact that the logo cost $46,000 to develop. You read that right. $46,000.
As you can imagine, watchdog groups are having a field day. The logo looks like something a grade school student could design, Chris Butler of www.Watchdog.org told Nashville TV station WSMV. The Beacon Center of Tennessee named the new logo “Pork of the Year.”
It appears that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) might have the last laugh. The State of Tennessee filed a federal trademark application for the new logo on March 2. The application was rejected by the USPTO on June 14 because the logo is “primarily geographically descriptive of the origin of applicant’s services.”
A trademark is primarily geographically descriptive when the following is demonstrated:
- The primary significance of the mark is a generally known geographic place or location;
- The goods and/or services for which applicant seeks registration originate in the geographic place identified in the mark; and
- Purchasers would be likely to make a goods-place or services-place association; that is, purchasers would be likely to believe that the goods and/or services originate in the geographic place identified in the mark.
The State of Tennessee has 6 months to respond to the rejection. Unfortunately, there isn’t much the state can say or do to overcome the rejection. This application is likely dead in its tracks.
The rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that the State of Tennessee won’t use the new logo. Federal registration is not required, but the state will miss out on a laundry list of important benefits. Given the time and money devoted to developing this new logo, it would be a shame for the State of Tennessee to not have all the tools necessary to enforce its intellectual property rights.