Affirming a Section 2(e)(4) refusal, the Board found the proposed mark LAFOND for ‘Fruit conserves; Fruit preserves; Fruit spreads; Jellies, jams; Nut butters” and for “Tea; Fruit sauces” to be primarily merely a surname. The Board agreed with Examining Attorney Claudia A. Kopenski that LAFOND is not an uncommon surname, that it has no other recognized meaning, and that the term has the look and sound of a surname. In re St. Dalfour International Incorporated, Serial No. 90527587 (September 21, 2013) [Opinion by Judge Thomas L. Casagrande].
The LexisNexis database of phone numbers included 8000 entries for the surname LAFOND. The 2010 U.S. Census data included 4112 occurrences. And so the Board concluded that “the surname LAFOND is not uncommon in the sense implicated by the Section 2(e)(4) inquiry.”
Applicant argued that “[t]here are no famous, or infamous, people with the name of Lafond,” but the Board pointed out that “celebrity status,” “national notoriety,” or “significant media attention” are not required when, as here, there are thousands of people in the Unites States with that surname.
Although if someone associated with applicant had the surname LAFOND, that would tend to show that the public is familiar with the name, the fact that no one associated with applicant has the surname LAFOND is a neutral factor.
Applicant acknowledged that there was no dictionary definition of LAFOND in the record, but it pointed to an urbandictionary.com entry defining “Lafond” as “the sweetest most loving person you will ever meet.” Although the examining attorney did not refute this evidence, the Board “tend[s] to be cautious, due to its nature, about giving it too much weight in the absence of evidence corroborating the definition at issue.
[T]he problem is that there is no corroborating evidence that gives us even a minimal degree of confidence that any significant portion of the consuming public has been exposed to or recognizes this definition. In fact, the only actual dictionaries in the record (Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Collins Dictionary) contained no definition of “lafond.” We therefore decline to give any weight to the Urban Dictionary definition cited by Applicant.
Applicant pointed to “Lafond” as a place name in Alberta, Canada, but there was no evidence that “the place name significance to the U.S. consumer is the same or greater than the surname significance, particularly in light of the fact that places are commonly named after people.”
Applicant also contended that “the word ‘Lafond’ translates from French to English as ‘the bottom.'” However, applicant’s proffered Google translation was for the two-word term “la fond,” not “lafond.” The Board noted the Collins dictionaries, which had no entry for “lafond.” [Why would it matter that French speakers might translate the term when the vast majority of Americans do not speak French and would not translate the term anyway? –ed.-].
Finally, the Board found that LAFOND has the look an pronunciation of a surname, comparing it to 2,025 occurrences of the surname LAFON and 1,079 occurrences of the surname LAFONT in the LexisNexis database. [What about the 8000 entries for LAFOND? –ed.].
And so, the Board affirmed the refusal.
Read comments and post your comment here.
TTABlogger comment: Is this a WYHA?
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2023.