Absolute Grounds for Refusal of Trademark Registration

Absolute Grounds for Refusal of Trademark RegistrationA trademark registration application can usually be denied for absolute or relative reasons for refusal, such as conflict with prior trademarks and well-known marks, or because registration is prohibited. We’ll look at trademark objections from the perspective of absolute grounds for trademark refusal in this article.

Absolute Grounds for Refusal

Trademarks that lack distinctive character and hence are liable to rejection under the absolute grounds for trademark denial are those that are unable to distinguish one person’s goods/services from those of another. The following are absolute grounds for trademark registration refusal, according to the Trademark Act:

  • Trademarks that lack any identifying characteristics, i.e., trademarks that cannot distinguish one person’s goods or services from those of another;
  • Trademarks consist solely of marks or indications that may be used in commerce to represent the type, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, or time of manufacture or rendering of products or services, or other attributes of goods or services;
  • Trademarks that are only made up of marks or indications that have become commonplace in today’s language or in legitimate and well-established business activities are not eligible for registration.

Distinctive Character of Trademark

If the trademark lacks distinctive character, it is one of the most common causes for absolute grounds for refusal. According to trademark laws, distinctive character indicates that the mark has been adopted by the typical consumer to identify items with which the trademark holder is or may be involved in the course of trade from goods with which there is no connection.Absolute Grounds for Refusal of Trademark Registration

Overcoming Objection under Absolute Grounds for Refusal

To overcome a trademark objection based on absolute grounds for denial, the trademark applicant may offer proof that the mark has evolved a unique character as a result of its previous use. Any of the following types of evidence could be presented in the form of an affidavit:

  • To demonstrate, the applicant must have used the mark as a means of identifying the trade origin of the goods; 
  • the result of this use is that the relevant public (or a significant portion thereof) has come to rely on the mark as a means of identifying the trade origin of the goods in the course of trade.
  • If the mark is one of several used by the undertaking to identify the trade origin of the goods, the Trademark Officer must be satisfied that the mark applied for has grown to foster a concrete expectation among the relevant public that goods bearing that mark originate from, or are under the control of, a single undertaking.