Monday, April 27, 2015

Generic Soccer Balls

Dear Rich: (1) My understanding is that the word "soccerball is in the public domain and can't be registered as a trademark, am I right? (2) What about if someone invents a sport? Does the inventor of the sport get trademark rights? 
(1) Terms that are generic for the goods or services are not registrable on either the Principal or the Supplemental Register under any circumstances. So, "Soccer Ball" can't be registered as a trademark for soccer balls. But it can be registered as a trademark for other products, for example, bubble gum.
(2) You wouldn't get trademark rights for inventing a sport. You only get rights when the mark is exploited in connection with goods or services. So, if someone invented a sport, or recreational activity, for example, Knockerball, and exclusively exploited the mark in commerce, a trademark registration may be awarded. The challenge for the owner is to avoid having the mark become the generic name for the activity, in which case trademark rights will be lost .