As stated in section 1213.05(c) "Double Entendre" of the Trademark Manual of Examination Procedure:

A "double entendre" is a word or expression capable of more than one interpretation. For trademark purposes, a "double entendre" is an expression that has a double connotation or significance as applied to the goods or services. The mark that comprises the "double entendre" will not be refused registration as merely descriptive if one of its meanings is not merely descriptive in relation to the goods or services.

A true "double entendre" is unitary by definition. An expression that is a "double entendre" should not be broken up for purposes of requiring a disclaimer. See In re Kraft, Inc., 218 USPQ 571, 573 (TTAB 1983), where the Board found inappropriate a requirement for a disclaimer of "LIGHT" apart from the mark "LIGHT N' LIVELY" for reduced calorie mayonnaise, stating as follows:

The mark "LIGHT N' LIVELY" as a whole has a suggestive significance which is distinctly different from the merely descriptive significance of the term "LIGHT" per se. That is, the merely descriptive significance of the term "LIGHT" is lost in the mark as a whole. Moreover, the expression as a whole has an alliterative lilting cadence which encourages persons encountering it to perceive it as a whole.

See also In re Symbra'ette, Inc., 189 USPQ 448 (TTAB 1975) (SHEER ELEGANCE for panty hose held to be a registrable unitary expression; thus, no disclaimer of "SHEER" considered necessary).

The multiple interpretations that make an expression a "double entendre" must be associations that the public would make fairly readily, and must be readily apparent from the mark itself. See In re The Place, Inc., 76 USPQ2d 1467, 1470 (TTAB 2005) (THE GREATEST BAR held laudatory and merely descriptive of restaurant and bar services; the Board stating that "[i]f the alleged second meaning of the mark is apparent to purchasers only after they view the mark in the context of the applicant's trade dress, advertising materials or other matter, then the mark is not a double entendre"); In re Wells Fargo & Co., 231 USPQ 95 (TTAB 1986) (EXPRESSERVICE held merely descriptive for banking services, despite applicant's argument that the term also connotes the Pony Express, the Board finding that, in the relevant context, the public would not make that association). See also In re Ethnic Home Lifestyles Corp., 70 USPQ2d 1156 (TTAB 2003) (ETHNIC ACCENTS held merely descriptive of "entertainment in the nature of television programs in the field of home décor," because the meaning in the context of the services is home furnishings or decorations which reflect or evoke particular ethnic traditions or themes, which identifies a significant feature of applicant's programs; viewers of applicant's programs deemed unlikely to discern a double entendre referring to a person who speaks with a foreign accent).

If all meanings of a "double entendre" are merely descriptive in relation to the goods, then the mark comprising the "double entendre" should be refused registration as merely descriptive.

The following cases illustrate situations where marks were considered to be "double entendres" and, therefore, registrable unitary marks: In re Colonial Stores Inc., 394 F.2d 549, 157 USPQ 382 (C.C.P.A. 1968) (SUGAR & SPICE for bakery products); In re Tea and Sympathy, Inc., 88 USPQ2d 1062 (TTAB 2008) (THE FARMACY held registrable for retail store services featuring natural herbs and organic products and related health and information services relating to dietary supplements and nutrition); In re Simmons Co., 189 USPQ 352 (TTAB 1976) (THE HARD LINE for mattresses and bed springs); In re Delaware Punch Co., 186 USPQ 63 (TTAB 1975) (THE SOFT PUNCH for noncarbonated soft drink); In re National Tea Co., 144 USPQ 286 (TTAB 1965) (NO BONES ABOUT IT for fresh pre-cooked ham).

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  • Definition: Double Entendre.
    • In re The Place, Inc., Serial No. 76436826, (TTAB 2005).
      • As stated in TMEP §1213.05(c), "A ‘double entendre' is a word or expression capable of more than one interpretation. For trademark purposes, a ‘double entendre' is an expression that has a double connotation or significance as applied to the goods or services. … The multiple interpretations that make an expression a ‘double entendre' must be associations that the public would make fairly readily."
  • A mark is deemed a double entendre only if both meanings are readily apparent from the mark itself.
    • In re The Place, Inc., Serial No. 76436826, (TTAB 2005).
      • A mark thus is deemed to be a double entendre only if both meanings are readily apparent from the mark itself. If the alleged second meaning of the mark is apparent to purchasers only after they view the mark in the context of the applicant's trade dress, advertising materials or other matter separate from the mark itself, then the mark is not a double entendre. See In re Wells Fargo & Company, 231 USPQ 95 (TTAB 1986).
  • A mark is not a double entendre if the second meaning is grasped by purchasers only when the mark is used with "other indicia," even if that other indicia is itself not merely descriptive.
    • In re The Place, Inc., Serial No. 76436826, (TTAB 2005).
      • We have quoted extensively from the Wells Fargo case because applicant in the present case makes many of the same arguments that were rejected by the Board in Wells Fargo, and because the holding of that case with respect to the double entendre issue is directly relevant to our decision herein: A mark is not a double entendre if the second meaning is grasped by purchasers only when the mark is used with "other indicia," even if that other indicia is itself not merely descriptive.
  • "Other indicia" means that surrounding the use of the mark, e.g., the memorabilia and artwork on the walls of the establishment.
    • In re The Place, Inc., Serial No. 76436826, (TTAB 2005).
      • It appears from applicant's own contention as to how purchasers will come to understand the asserted second meaning of applicant's mark that the double entendre will not be "fairly readily" ascertained by purchasers. Instead, it is only in the context of what the Board in Wells Fargo called "other indicia" surrounding use of the mark, e.g., the Boston-themed memorabilia and artwork on the walls of the establishment, that the double entendre will be understood by purchasers. The alleged double entendre does not inhere in the language of the mark itself; the mark therefore is not a double entendre.
  • The effect of non-registered components on consumer perceptions cannot be considered in determining whether the mark is descriptive.
    • In re The Place, Inc., Serial No. 76436826, (TTAB 2005).
      • The Board addressed this issue in the Wells Fargo case as follows: "Another way of looking at it is that since the other concededly registerable indicia are not part of the matter sought to be registered, the presumed right to exclude others from using EXPRESSERVICE which would be accorded appellant by registration of that term is not limited to its use in association with Wells Fargo and/or the stage coach design. Consequently, the effect of these other indicia on consumer perceptions cannot be considered in our determination whether its registration would be contrary to the provisions of Section 2(e)(1)."
  • Case Findings: Examples of cases where the double entendre was apparent on the face of the mark itself.
    • In re The Place, Inc., Serial No. 76436826, (TTAB 2005).
      • Finally, we find that this case is distinguishable from the double entendre cases relied upon by applicant, because in those cases the double entendre was apparent on the face of the mark itself. For example, in In re Colonial Stores Inc., 394 F.3d 549, 157 USPQ 382 (CCPA 1968), the court found that the mark SUGAR & SPICE for bakery products was a double entendre, because it immediately connoted both the ingredients of the bakery products and the well-known nursery rhyme phrase "sugar & spice and everything nice." In In re National Tea Co., 144 USPQ 286 (TTAB 1965), the Board held that the mark NO BONES ABOUT IT for ham immediately connoted both the fact that the ham was boneless and the commonly used phrase "no bones about it." Other examples of cases in which the marks were found to be double entendres are In re Happy Baby Carrier Company, 179 USPQ 864 (TTAB 1973)(NAPSACK a double entendre as applied to baby carriers); and In re Horsman Dolls Inc., 185 USPQ 639 (TTAB 1975)(CRY BABY a double entendre as applied to dolls that "cry real tears").
  • A mark encompassing a double entendre will not be refused registration as merely descriptive if one of its meanings is not merely descriptive in relation to the involved goods or services.
    • In re Paul Leonhardt, Serial No. 78666879 (TTAB 2008)
      • A mark encompassing a double entendre will not be refused registration as merely descriptive if one of its meanings is not merely descriptive in relation to the involved goods or services. See In re Colonial Stores Inc., 394 F.2d 549, 157 USPQ 382 (CCPA 1968) [SUGAR & SPICE registrable for bakery products]; In re Simmons Co., 189 USPQ 352 (TTAB 1976) [THE HARD LINE for mattresses and bed springs]; In re Delaware Punch Co., 186 USPQ 63 (TTAB 1975) [THE SOFT PUNCH for noncarbonated soft drink]; and In re National Tea Co., 144 USPQ 286 (TTAB 1965) [NO BONES ABOUT IT for fresh pre-cooked ham]. In each of these cases, the secondary interpretation that makes each expression a double entendre consists of an association that members of the public would make quite readily.
Cited Fed. Cir. Case In re Paul Leonhardt, Serial No. 78666879 (TTAB 2008) In re The Place, Inc., Serial No. 76436826, (TTAB 2005) Grand Total
In re Wells Fargo & Company, 231 USPQ 95 (TTAB 1986) 1
In re Simmons Co., 189 USPQ 352 (TTAB 1976) 1
In re Delaware Punch Company, 186 USPQ 63, 64 (TTAB 1975) 1
In re Horsman Dolls Inc., 185 USPQ 639 (TTAB 1975) 1
In re Happy Baby Carrier Company, 179 USPQ 864 (TTAB 1973) 1
In re Colonial Stores Inc., 394 F.3d 549, 157 USPQ 382 (CCPA 1968) 2
In re National Tea Co., 144 USPQ 286 (TTAB 1965) 2
Grand Total 4 5 9
No Statutes Listed.