The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found the mark “THCTea” to be deceptively misdescriptive when the underlying product contained no THC—the chief intoxicant in marijuana.
Applicant, who intended to use the mark for tea-based beverages, claimed that “THCTea” is not intended to stand for THC, but instead for “The Honey Care Tea” or “Tea Honey Care”.
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The board analyzed whether the mark was deceptively misdescriptive using a two-part test. First, the board considered whether “THCTea” misdescribes a significant aspect of the product. Relying on its single dictionary definition, the board found that THC refers to the principle psychoactive in marijuana. Because Applicant’s tea-based beverages do not contain THC, the board concluded that the mark misdescribes the goods.
Second, the board considered whether reasonably prudent consumers would believe that “THCTea” contains THC. While Applicant argued that only a “rather gullible, uninformed consumer” would believe that “THCTea” would contain an illicit substance, the board disagreed. Acknowledging that over 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession of marijuana to varying degrees, the board noted that THC-based beverages are already hitting the shelves. With legal THC products available in some states, the board concluded that a reasonably prudent consumer would likely believe that “THCTea” contains THC. Moreover, the board found that such a feature would be highly relevant to a consumer’s purchasing decision.
The board ultimately ruled that Applicant’s mark was deceptively misdescriptive, having the capability of confusing and misleading consumers if marketed alongside THC-based products.
In re Christopher C. Hinton, Serial No. 85713080 (TTAB September 14, 2015) [precedential].