Popular American breakfast chain Dunkin' Donuts was denied a trademark request for their slogan claiming they have the "Best Coffee in America." The United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application, saying the phrase was, "nothing more than a claim of superiority." Ouch!
So on what grounds did Dunkin' Donuts lose this one? In order to win the trademark, the company needed to demonstrate the slogan had "acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning." They tried to do so by pointing to the fact that they've used the phrase for five years, but the trademark office ruled that was "insufficient to show acquired distinctiveness because the proposed mark is highly laudatory and descriptive and incapable of achieving secondary meaning."
The lesson here is that just because you call your product the best doesn't mean you can trademark it to earn exclusive rights to that title. As the trademark office pointed out, "businesses as well as consumers use the wording “best coffee” and “best coffee in America” to refer to a wide variety of coffee shops and coffee brands." So it's looking like Dunkin' Donuts will have to keep competing.
[via Boston Globe]
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