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  • Writer's pictureTodd

Double Entendre Trademarks

If a word or phrase is capable of more than one interpretation as applied to the specific goods or services, a double entendre will not be refused registration as merely descriptive, even if one of the meanings are merely descriptive of the goods or services. However, if ALL meanings are descriptive, then the mark is still refused registration as merely descriptive. In addition, the mark is considered as a whole, instead of breaking it down into pieces. The double entendre must be readily apparent to the public from the mark itself.

Here are some examples of double entendre marks:

SUGAR & SPICE is a trademark that was allowed registration for baked goods because of the nursey rhyme associating “sugar and spice” with “everything nice.”

THE HARD LINE was permitted registration for mattresses because it didn’t mean just extra support, but also was a vernacular expression that describes an attitude of toughness in relationship to others.

THE SOFT PUNCH was allowed as a registration for noncarbonated soft drinks because it was essentially redundant and not a phrase commonly used for non-alcoholic beverages.

NO BONES ABOUT IT was allowed registration for fresh pre-cooked ham in part because the phrase also means to be sure, serious, or definite about a matter

LIGHT N’ LIVELY was allowed for reduced calorie mayonnaise, because the word LIGHT when viewed as a whole meant something different than just low calorie.

SHEER ELEGANCE was allowed for pantyhose. Here, sheer did not need to be disclaimed because as a whole, the mark had another meaning than the material of the pantyhose.

ENGINEERED TAX SERVICES could mean that the tax services are performed skillfully and scientifically, or that the tax services were done by actual engineers, and thus was allowed.

FAST DRINK for nutritional meal replacements could apply to being prepared quickly, being a quick snack, or a meal replacement while someone is fasting, so it was allowed.

The Double Entendre argument is not always successful. For example, SCOOP for ice cream probably refers more to the serving of ice cream rather than a news scoop, because it’s not immediately perceived by the consumer that the product as a news scoop.

EXPRESSSERVICE is merely descriptive of banking services, even if it also connotes the Pony Express, because the public probably would not make that connection.

For a mark I think is really clever, the USPTO denied BAZAAR HOME because it was merely descriptive, despite the argument that it could mean strange dwelling (bizarre), or a Middle-Eastern themed marketplace.

MeUndies filed a trademark application for BALL CADDY for men’s underwear.

Can you think of any other marks that have a double meaning?

Please note that the information contained in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. The facts of your situation may differ from this general information. It is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship.

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