San Diego - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has affirmed a PTO examiner's refusal to register the trademark "Verde" to Verde Power Supply Inc., saying the proposed trademark as used in connection with the company's goods is only descriptive.
Verde Power Supply refused to provide the examiner with information she requested during the registration process about the company's business operations, on the grounds that doing so would reveal its trade secrets, the TTAB said. TTABlog first reported the board's ruling on Wednesday.
The company applied to register the trademark in January 2010 for electrical and electronic devices for power supply technology, including power supply units, current-voltage converters, DC converters and electronic power supply circuitry.
After the company declined to divulge its claimed trade secrets, the examining attorney asked whether the goods are energy efficient or environmentally friendly. Verde Power Supply did not acknowledge the questions or provide any information regarding the goods, and did not mention them on appeal either, the TTAB said.
"Applicant did not contest the revised request on the ground that it would require applicant to divulge trade secrets, or that it was not legitimate; applicant did not make any response to this request whatsoever," the board said.
The examiner's questions regarding energy efficiency and environmental friendliness were proper to ask, as they concern facts that pertain to the descriptiveness refusal, the TTAB said.
Noncompliance with a legitimate requirement for information or materials can, in and of itself, be a valid basis for denying registration, according to the board.
"We make the presumption that the answers to the examining attorney's questions would be unfavorable to applicant, and that applicant's goods are both environmentally friendly and energy efficient," it said.
The trademark "Verde" would directly and immediately convey to the purchasers of electrical and electronic devices that the equipment in question is environmentally friendly, the board said.
TTAB Judge Ellen Seeherman dissented from the majority ruling, saying that the PTO has failed to prove that "Verde" is merely descriptive.
The office has not shown that Spanish-speaking purchasers of Verde Power Supply's goods would understand "Verde" as having the meaning of energy efficient or environmentally friendly, or that those purchasers would immediately understand from the trademark athat the goods have those qualities, she said.