Florida law grants some level of protection to unregistered trademarks, but the best approach is to file for registration with the Department of State. Applicants must meet the requirements established in state regulations for a successful registration process.
Keep reading to discover the potential grounds for trademark refusal in Florida.
What Are the Grounds for Refusal of Trademark in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
When someone applies for trademark registration in Florida, the first step is to verify whether the mark already exists or has been used by someone else.
This process usually requires a thorough search that involves an extensive list of information databases, trade directories, and business names. To avoid losing time and money in the process, the best approach is to rely on expert legal guidance.
Once the application forms are filled out and submitted to the Department of State with evidence of prior use of the mark, an official examination will assess whether the mark can be registered.
The examining officer will search the records to identify the existence of conflict between the applicant’s mark and other existing marks. The key element behind this process is the similarity between marks and the commercial relationship between the goods identified by them.
Likelihood of Confusion
When an applicant’s mark can potentially lead consumers to mistakenly believe the source of specific goods or products is the same as an existing mark, it will not be approved. Please note that the term “conflicting marks” does not necessarily mean marks that look the same.
If a mark features similarities with another existing mark in terms of sound, appearance, or meaning, and the similarity is sufficient to support a likelihood of confusion, the applicant’s application will likely fail.
A descriptive trademark only describes the goods or services to which it is applied. If the applicant’s mark fails to identify and distinguish the source of goods or services, it cannot be approved.
You cannot trademark terms like “Africa,” Niagara Falls,” or “Miami”. If a geographic term is the central feature of an applicant’s mark to such an extent that the primary meaning of the mark is geographic, it will not be approved by the Department of State.
Name of Living Person’s or Family Names
Family and personal names are only eligible for trademark protection in very few circumstances. Generally, the application process demands closer attention to detail, as the trademark must meet specific criteria for approval.
In most cases, attempting to trademark a family name or the name of a living person with the Florida Department of State will not likely end in a successful experience.
When applying for a trademark with the state of Florida, applicants must file the required forms and submit a demonstration of their trademarks featured on goods or advertising materials, which is usually a specimen.
The term “specimen” refers to a sample of a trademark as used in business (e.g., a website printout, a photograph of the mark directly on the product packaging, brochures, etc.).
It is not rare to find applicants that fail to understand this requirement and end up experiencing an “ornamental” refusal. If the specimen shows that the trademark is only used as a decorative or ornamental element, it will not be approved in Florida.