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 1998 TTAB LEXIS 20; 46 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1455

Trademark Trial and Appeal Board

June 3, 1997, Hearing ; April 8, 1998, Decided

Serial No. 74/212,578


THIS OPINION IS NOT A PRECEDENT OF THE TTAB [**1455]  Opinion by Quinn, Administrative Trademark Judge:

An application has been filed by Volvo Cars of North America, Inc. to register the designation DRIVE SAFELY for "automobiles and structural parts therefor." 1 Applicant has claimed the benefits of acquired distinctiveness under Section 2(f) of the Act.

The Trademark Examining Attorney has refused registration under Sections 1, 2 and [**1456]  45 of the Trademark Act, 15 USC §§ 1051, 1052 and 1127, on the ground that the designation sought to be registered does not function as a trademark, but rather acts as a mere cautionary phrase which admonishes drivers to operate their automobiles in a safe manner.

When the refusal was [*2]  made final, applicant appealed. Applicant and the Examining Attorney filed briefs, and an oral hearing was heldbefore the Board.

Applicant contends, in urging that the refusal be reversed, that Volvo and its automobile products are synonymous with safety. Therefore, according to applicant, DRIVE SAFELY is more than a mere safety admonition, acting, rather, as a source identifier for applicant. The essence of applicant's arguments is as follows:

Volvo's established reputation as a producer of safe--indeed, the safest--automobiles renders DRIVE SAFELY a double entendre which emphasizes both that Volvo's automobiles enable one to drive safely because the car's safety features protect its occupants, and that Volvo is concerned about the safety of its current and prospective customers (who constitute the driving public generally). That double entendre connects Volvo with the mark, and through Volvo's extensive promotion and use, the mark has gained secondary meaning entitling it to registration. Moreover, the context and manner of Volvo's uses of DRIVE SAFELY demonstrate that the mark is not used in its ordinary, cautionary meaning, and the mark is not so understood by [*3]  the public. (appeal brief, p. 4) [emphasis in original]

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 1998 TTAB LEXIS 20 *;  46 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1455 **

In re Volvo Cars of North America, Inc.

Disposition:  [*1]  

Decision: The refusal to register is affirmed.


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