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What kinds of trademarks cannot be registered?

The USPTO will not grant registration to the following categories of trademarks:

1. Generic terms

Generic words are common words that describe an entire class of goods or services. Examples include the terms "Pizza Restaurant" for a pizza restaurant and "Tennis Racquets" for tennis racquets.

2. Surnames

Because a trademark grants the applicant exclusive rights to use, the USPTO does not want one person to have the sole right to use their surname and thereby prevent others of the same surname from using this name in connection with their business.

3. Geographically descriptive or geographically misdescriptive terms

Examples of a geographically descriptive mark include using the term "champagne" to describe champagne from the French province of Champagne, or geographically misdescriptive terms, such as using the term "champagne" to describe sparkling wine from California. Because a trademark grants the applicant exclusive rights to use, the USPTO does not want to prevent others from using the term "champagne" to describe their brand of champagne nor allow a company to lie about the origin or their product.

4. Scandalous or immoral marks

These are marks that offend the conscience.

5. Deceptive marks

The USPTO does not want the consumer deceived.


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