question.jpgIn Trademarks

Can a geographic term be protected as a trademark?

A mark which serves to describe geographic origins cannot generally be protected or registered as a trademark. Thus, if you sell potatoes from Idaho, you cannot get trademark rights to the term “Idaho” as used in connection with the sale of these potatoes, as this mark is geographically descriptive. In addition, a geographic mark which is deceptive as to origin of the goods or services is not protectable. For example, if you made wine in Oklahoma and wanted to register the name “Napa Valley Sipping Wine” for use with your winery and wine, you would not be permitted, as the mark suggests that the wine comes from Napa Valley, when it actually does not.

It should be noted that even though a geographic term cannot be used as a general trademark or service mark, geographic terms can be used as certification marks.