Don’t Go For Common Phrases. They can be difficult and expensive to obtain.

Applicant filed for the mark ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE for a variety of clothing items.  The mark was refused because the TTAB has taken the position that “common phrases” do not function as trademarks and should be available for use by everyone.

The TTAB also held that the primary function of the phrase ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE is to convey information (i.e., another way of saying it does not function as a trademark). Specifically, the TTAB concluded that a person wearing an article of clothing displaying this phrase was at one time a Marine, or that this person is expressing support, admiration or a current affiliation with the Marines.

Image Courtesy of: Eeleco Cramer Used under Creative Commons license.

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