The USPTO refused to register the mark PALMS FREE for “universal phone holders and harnesses,” deeming the mark to be merely descriptive under Section 2(e)(1). Examining Attorney Christopher Law contended that the applied-for mark “directly conveys to consumers that Applicant’s product has a hands-free feature that permits users to use their hands for purposes other than holding the phone.” Would You Have Appealed? In re Palms Free Inc., Serial No. 86229868 (January 5, 2016) [not precedential].


Based on dictionary definitions of “palm” (“[t]he inner surface of the hand that extends from the wrist to the base of the fingers) and “free” (“not subject to external restraint” and “not bound, fastened, or attached”), the Board concluded that, “when used in connection with a universal phone holder or harness, the term PALMS FREE means an unencumbered hand.”

Applicant itself explained that the “applied-for mark PALM S FREE will be used with a universal phone holder and/or harness that frees the user’s palms and permits them to be used for other purposes while using a phone.” Thus, PALMS FREE describes a feature of applicant’s products (i.e., “that using a phone will be a hands-free event”).

Applicant feebly argued that its mark describes “no particular device” that might be operated hands-free, but the Board was not moved. “[T]he mark PALMS FREE describes a feature or purpose of the products by directly conveying to consumers that their hands will be unencumbered.”

Finally, the Board pointed out once again that even if applicant were the first and only user of the term PALMS FREE, that alone does not make the term distinctive.

And so the Board affirmed the refusal to register.