Is ONE TEAM CARE Merely Descriptive?

In a 2020 nonprecedential case, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board reversed a §2(e)(1) mere descriptiveness registration refusal for ONE TEAM CARE, for “providing temporary use of online non-downloadable cloud computing software for coordinating the provision of healthcare among caregivers and patients.”

The Applicant, TriarQ Health, LLC, argued that its proposed mark was not merely, descriptive, because it did not describe a feature or attribute of the identified goods or services, instead, it was suggestive of a function, feature or characteristic of its services. In support of its argument, the Applicant identified nine third-party registrations for the marks “ONE TEAM” and “ONE TEAM” formative marks issued for separate entities and different goods and services. Three of which related closely to the Applicant’s services: (1) “ONE TEAM. ONE FOCUS. LIFE,” for “medical diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” (2) “ONE CENTER. ONE FOCUS. ONE TEAM.” for “medical services, namely, medical imaging, surgery and treatment services” and (3) “ONETEAM.BUILD,” for “providing temporary use of on-line, non-downloadable software for use…in the field of residential and commercial design and construction,” and related activities. However, the Examining Attorney argued that the Applicant’s mark was simply a “combination of descriptive terms that immediately conveys a feature of applicant’s services, namely, software services that coordinate a “one team” method or strategy of care for patients.”

In beginning its analysis of the mark, the Board stated, that it’s not just about whether a consumer would be able to inference the nature of the goods or services from the mark alone, but, “rather, we evaluate whether someone who knows what the goods or services are will understand the mark to convey information about them.” See DuoProSS Meditech Corp. v. Inviro Med. Devices, Ltd., 695 F.3d 1247, 103 USPQ2d 1753, 1757 (Fed. Cir. 2012).

The Board then reviewed the evidence submitted by the Examining Attorney starting with the seven submitted screenshots of different websites from healthcare providers and medical trade journals that used the term “one team,” in the context of various aspects of health care. The Board ultimately decided that the evidence showed only limited use of the term “one team” in connection with various services related to providing a “multidisciplinary approach to medical and health-related services and training.” In regard to this particular evidence, the Board found that the Applicant’s services may be used, among other things, to coordinate healthcare services among a “team” of caregivers to patients. The Board stated, “‘One team’ is a nebulous or, at worst, suggestive term in all of the articles in which it appears.”

The Board then moved to the dictionary definitions submitted by the Examining Attorney of the words comprising the mark. (1) ONE – “being a single unit or thing; constituting a unified entity of two or more components,” (2) TEAM – “a number of persons associated together in work or activity” and (3) CARE – “charge; supervision (under a doctor’s care); to give care (care for the sick.)” It found that the definitions provided fell short of demonstrating that ONE TEAM was merely descriptive of a function or characteristic of the Applicant’s software services for in the field of healthcare, to a degree of particularity. “To be merely descriptive, a term must forthwith convey an immediate idea of a quality, feature, function, or characteristic of the relevant goods or services with a ‘degree of particularity.’” See The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Cont’l Gen. Tire, Inc., 70 USPQ2d 1067, 1069 (TTAB 2008) (internal citations omitted.)

In regard to all of the submitted evidence, the Board found that it was impossible to determine whether or not the use of “one team” or “one team care” merely represented the use of the term in the particular context, or if it indicated the use of the term to describe a particular aspect of the Applicant’s medical software services. In terms of the Applicant’s software services could be used, among other things, to facilitate a “one-team” approach to medical care, the Board found that “imagination or additional thought [would be] required to reach that conclusion.” See, e.g., In re George Weston Ltd., 228 USPQ 57 (TTAB 1985).

In conclusion, the Board ultimately decided that the Applicant’s mark ONE TEAM CARE was not merely descriptive under §2(e)(1) and reversed the refusal to register.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Hot Topics


Practice Areas

Trade Secrets
Internet Law
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.