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Registering a trademark on the phrase ‘personal liberty’?

The issue came up in Personal Liberty Media Group, LLC (Trademark Trial & Appeal Bd. May 15, 2014), and the legal question was whether the term was “merely descriptive” and thus not registrable:

A term is merely descriptive within the meaning of Section 2(e)(1) if it immediately conveys knowledge of a quality, feature, function, or characteristic of the goods or services with which it is used. Whether a term is merely descriptive must be determined not in the abstract, but in relation to the goods or services for which registration is sought, the context in which the term is used, and the possible significance that the term is likely to have to the average purchaser encountering the goods or services in the marketplace.

The board says the mark was merely descriptive and thus not registrable as to use for for services “featuring information in the fields of economics and politics” or “newsletters in the fields of current events, economics, politics, wealth management and personal management.” But it wouldn’t be merely descriptive, and thus would be registrable, as to use for “providing a website featuring information in the field of wealth management.”

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.

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