Sun Oil Company brings this appeal from the decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, 155 USPQ 600 (1967), affirming the examiner's refusal to allow appellant's application to register "CUSTOM-BLENDED" for gasoline
The application seeking registration on the Principal Register alleges use since 1956. The mark is displayed on special pumps, called "blending pumps," at appellant's service stations. The application is designated a continuation of an earlier application filed July 13, 1961, in which registration on the Principal Register was sought for the same mark for gasoline and refused by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on the ground that the mark was merely a descriptive connotation to purchasers of applicant's goods.
In his Answer, the examiner predicated refusal of registration on the ground that CUSTOM-BLENDED is merely descriptive of appellant's goods within the meaning of section 2(e) (1) because it is so highly descriptive of appellant's blended gasoline that it is incapable of becoming distinctive as claimed. It was the examiner's opinion that the term CUSTOM-BLENDED merely informs purchasers that various grades of gasoline from appellant's blending pumps are custom blended for them; that the word "custom" is commonly used to indicate things made to order; that it has very little trademark significance when used in connection with blended gasoline; that appellant is not entitled to exclusive appropriation of this term, which so aptly describes custom-blended gasoline; and that the conclusion derived from surveys conducted by appellant is that purchasers who are acquainted with appellant's Blue Sunoco gasoline know that such gasoline is custom blended.
In affirming refusal of registration, the board stated that granted that the generic terms for appellant's blended gasolines are pump-blended and multplegrade gasolines, there is no question that "`CUSTOM-BLENDED' has a merely
We have given a synoptic analysis of the board's able, well-considered and exhaustive opinion without reiterating essential facts of record. These facts are detailed in their essence and relevancy and supportive of the board's conclusions so clearly and aptly enunciated in its decision. We, therefore, incorporate herein by reference the opinion of the board and affirm its refusal of registration. The decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is, accordingly, affirmed.
RICH, Acting Chief Judge (concurring).
I agree with the result reached by the majority which is supported by an opinion largely relying on and incorporating by reference the opinion of the board. While I do not disagree with anything said in the majority's opinion, I do not accord the survey evidence, by which it was attempted to show "secondary meaning," the significance apparently accorded it by the board. The examiner accorded it none. I do not agree with the board's statement that "This case turns upon the sufficiency of applicant's evidence" of "secondary meaning."
The examiner in this case was of the view, as the board reported, that CUSTOM-BLENDED "is so highly descriptive of applicant's blended gasoline that it is incapable of becoming distinctive as claimed." (My emphasis.) If that is so, registration must be refused under 15 U.S.C. § 1052(e) (1) no matter what evidence of alleged "secondary meaning" is adduced; in other words, under the facts of this case the law proscribes the possibility of a de jure "secondary meaning," notwithstanding the existence of 15 U.S.C. § 1052(f) and a de facto "secondary meaning." In re Deister Concentrator Co., 289 F.2d 496, 48 CCPA 952, 963 et seq. (1961), and cases cited therein.
In my opinion, CUSTOM-BLENDED is so highly descriptive that it cannot, under the law, be accorded trademark rights even though at some times, or to some people, or in some places, it has a de facto secondary meaning. My view was expressed by the examiner. I think that conclusively disposes of the matter. While I see no objection to pointing out to appellant that its evidence has not established "secondary meaning," I am unwilling to lead appellant or others to think that the fault was in the quantity or quality of its evidence rather than in the descriptiveness of the words sought to be registered.
Appellant has argued that the descriptive term for its gasoline is "pump-blended." I do not question that that is a descriptive — or as appellant calls it "generic" — term; but a product may have more than one generically descriptive name. Because one merchandiser has latched onto one of the descriptive terms does not mean it can force its competitors to limit themselves to the use of the others, which appellant, it seems to me, is trying to do here. All of the generic names for a product belong in the public domain. The product itself, for example, is called gasoline in the United States but petrol in England. Clearly both of those names must remain free of proprietary claims, in either country. So it is, in my view, with respect to pumpblended and custom-blended. The examiner stated the factual basis for this view in pointing out that "custom," as in custom-built, custom-service,
FISHER, District Judge (dissenting).
Under the doctrine of "secondary meaning," a trademark, though originally descriptive of a type of product, is nonetheless entitled to registration if the mark has, by association with a business, come primarily to identify its user, rather than the product, to that part of the public interested in contracting with the trademark user. Application of Automatic Radio Mfg. Co., 404 F.2d 1391, 56 CCPA 817 (1969). Whether a descriptive mark has acquired secondary meaning depends upon the particular facts of each case. W. E. Bassett Co. v. Revlon, Inc., 354 F.2d 868 (2d Cir., 1966).
Briefly, it has been shown that appellant has used the mark in question for its gasoline exclusively and continuously over a period of some twelve years. There is evidence of extensive advertising of and sales of large volumes of gasoline under that mark during this period. Surveys of record suggest that in at least two areas where there are other marketers of multi-grade, pump-blended gasoline, the term CUSTOM-BLENDED is associated in the public mind with this appellant in a preponderance which can only be accounted for by recognition of origin. There is no evidence which would imply that the mark is of such a descriptive nature that granting trademark rights therein to the user would deprive others of their right to normal use of the language.
In light of these facts, it is respectfully submitted that the decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board should be reversed and registration granted on the basis that the mark CUSTOM-BLENDED has acquired secondary meaning within Section 2(f) of the Act (15 U.S.C. § 1052(f)).