Singer Gwen Stefani launched a clothing and accessory line in 2004 under the mark L.A.M.B., which is an acronym for “Love Angel Music Baby,” the title of her first solo album which sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. Ms. Stefani’s company owns four registrations for the L.A.M.B. mark for clothing, handbags, watches and other accessory items. The company filed a new application for L.A.M.B. that includedvarious clothing items. The Patent and Trademark Office refused registration on the ground the mark wasdeceptive when considered in relation to the clothing. During prosecution the Applicant informed the PTO that most of the clothing was made of cotton. The Applicant appealed the refusal to register.
A mark is deceptive under the Trademark Act if: (1) the term is misdescriptive of the character, quality, function, composition or use of the goods; (2) prospective purchasers are likely to believe that the misdescription actually describes the goods; and (3) the misdescription is likely to affect a significant portion of the relevant consumers’ decision to purchase the goods.
The Board acknowledged that the existence of punctuation in the middle of a mark generally does not change the commercial impression of the mark. Consumers will still pronounce L.A.M.B. as “lamb” despite the punctuation. Nevertheless, the Board found the mark was not deceptive because the majority of the relevant consumers associate L.A.M.B. with “Love Angel Music Baby” and not as the word “lamb.”
The Applicant submitted evidence of extensive use and consumer recognition of the L.A.M.B. brand. Although a showing of distinctiveness in the market does not help to overcome a deceptiveness refusal, such evidencecan be considered in determining whether the mark misdescribes the goods and whether prospective purchasers are likely to believe that the misdescription actually describes the goods.
The Applicant’s evidence demonstrated that it promoted the association of L.A.M.B. with “Love Angel Music Baby” on its website and in advertising and promotional materials. The Board was also persuaded by the fact that consumers will know when they purchase clothing in stores or online, if it is made from lambskin, and will not be deceived. The Applicant affirmatively stated that its clothing is made of cotton and like materials, and media reports and the online catalog pages demonstrated this fact. In addition, the Applicant demonstrated that it used the L.A.M.B. mark to identify all of its clothing, footwear and headwear items, no matter the type of materials used.
Thus, the Applicant’s evidence was sufficient to demonstrate that prospective purchasers would perceive that L.A.M.B. is a source identifier for all of the Applicant’s clothing items, and would not believe that L.A.M.B. identifies only clothing items that are made of lamb.
In re LAMB-GRS, LLC, Serial No. 77756492 (TTAB September 30, 2014) [not precedential].