Descriptiveness and abbreviations, acronyms or initials

Publication Date: 2010-10-26

Trademarks consisting of or containing abbreviations, acronyms or initials are examined for any clearly descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive meanings, in English or French, as applied to the character or quality, place of origin, conditions of, or persons employed in the production of the associated goods or the performance of the services.

In deciding whether a trademark is clearly descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive, it must be determined what first impression the mark would create upon the everyday user or purchaser of the goods and/or services (Wool Bureau of Canada Ltd. v. Registrar of Trade Marks (1978), 40 C.P.R. (2d) 25 and Mitel Corporation v. Registrar of Trade Marks (1984), 79 C.P.R. (2d) 202).

A trademark that consists of or contains an abbreviation, acronym or initial is considered unregistrable pursuant to paragraph 12(1)(b) of the Trade-marks Act if the trademark, when considered in its totality and as a matter of first impression in association with the goods and/or services, is clearly descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive. The Office considers that the mere addition of an abbreviation, acronym or initial of a clearly descriptive word or phrase contained in the trademark will not render the trademark registrable.

This practice notice is intended to provide guidance on current Trademarks Office practice and interpretation of relevant legislation. However, in the event of any inconsistency between this notice and the applicable legislation, the legislation must be followed.

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