Does your mark have ‘Laudatory’ meaning?

There are screwed up sheets of paper across every entrepreneur’s dark office as they scribble down all the different ideas for their business name or brand mark. They sit for hours getting frustrated because the perfect mark is on the tip of their tongue and they just can’t find it, then suddenly it screams at them. They quickly jump to it, register the name at Companies House, design their logo, and start printing everything to do with their brand.

They file their proposed mark and sit and wait excitedly for that certificate to come through the door. All of a sudden, the word LAUDATORY is in bold writing on an objection letter form the Examiner. Where did that come from, what does that mean, why did I not get a search report done by a specialist, and what do I do now are all things that flood peoples mind.

A mark that has laudatory meaning is more common than applicants realise, and something that needs to be considered before deciding on a mark. It essentially relates to a mark that makes a descriptive or bold statement within the words, relating to the goods and services they provide, but in a different way to just describing the goods and services outright. Are you following? No… well don’t panic examples make much more sense.

An example of a mark with laudatory meaning would arguably have promotional value to it. ‘We are the best’ gives as statement that is misleading. ‘coolest clothes around’ is another example or even using the word ‘gold’ in the mark can be considered as having laudatory meaning. The reason for this would was argued in ‘BONUS GOLD’ [1998] RPC 859 where it was upheld that the word gold is only possible of having two uses within the financial services sector as a mark one is used in a laudatory fashion, and the other is the obvious meaning as a precious metal or colour which naturally would attract an objection on those characteristics anyway.

This is different to the descriptive element where there are two elements that the examiner will consider for absolute grounds. The first is an application being devoid of distinctive character (example is it having laudatory meaning) and the other being solely descriptive of the goods and services. Descriptive is different to laudatory because when a mark is descriptive it is specifically stating for example ‘cars’ for cars, or ‘soap’ for soap, whereas laudatory is serving a promotional value and making a claim to something.

This may all seem very confusing but it is an important part of an applicant’s understanding before hitting the button to file an application. For something to be distinctive, it must be unique and memorable, but remember it must also not have a laudatory meaning in the eyes of the examiner, or it will be objected at first instance.

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