Campbell Soup Company ran into some difficulties getting its trade mark application for UNCANNED over the line in connection with information services about food. The mark is used to support a consumer information campaign about trends and issues in modern food production (e.g. GMO, food tech, etc).

The Australian trade mark office initially knocked back the application, saying the mark was too descriptive – other traders may need to use the same word in relation to similar information services. This is a common ground for rejection. In response, Campbell argued that the “ordinary signification” of the word “uncanned” was not a term used to describe a quality or aspect of the information services. It was simply an invented word.

Ultimately, the trade mark office sided with Campbell: “the awkward nature of the term and the apparent absence of its use [e.g. on the internet] indicate strongly that ‘uncanned’ has no ordinary signification to persons who will purchase the Applicant’s Services”.

The lesson

There’s often a fine line between what’s descriptive and what’s not for the purposes of trade mark law, so don’t underestimate the value of seeking some advice prior to filing.