Last updated on June 26th, 2020
When filing a Letter of Protest against a trademark application to register a Bible verse or other religious quotation as a trademark, here’s what you need to know:
- Legal Basis: Failure to Function – Religious Text See TMEP 1202.04(c)
- Evidence: It’s not enough to tell USPTO the verse reference. They need to SEE proof that the verse is in the Bible, Koran, or whatever. For WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE, I submitted the Google Search results (because the first one listed put the phrase in bold print as part of the first result, and showed the verse reference), and a page from BibleGateway showing the entire verse in context. (NOTE: I printed these PDFs using Fireshot, in incognito mode. If you forget to use incognito, you should edit the file before uploading and remove any personally-identifying information. Also, be sure the PDF includes the URL & date of capture. Fireshot adds this automagically.)
- More Evidence: Just for good measure, I included the Google Shopping results (splitting them into part 1 and part 2 to keep the PDF file size under 30 MB per USPTO’s requirements).
- NOTE: If the Legal Basis was “Widely Used Message, TMEP 1202.04(b)” as in Dave Cadoff’s excellent example on Merch Informer, this evidence would be inadequate for a post-publication Letter of Protest. I only included it to offer evidence of use in commerce. (Dave’s method works well early in the process, which is where anyone fighting questionable trademarks should concentrate their efforts.)
- Description of Evidence: 1) Google search results, showing the term is an excerpt from Matthew 19:26, NIV Bible; 2) BibleGateway results, showing full text of verse; 3) Google Shopping results, showing the phrase used on a wide variety of goods (signs, jewelry, pillows, journal, pocket tokens, wall art, decal) from a wide variety of platforms (including Amazon, Etsy, Christian Book Distributors, Kohls, Poshmark (Nordstrom bracelet), Gifts Catholic, and more).
- Need an example of how to complete the Legal Basis and evidence descriptions? See this redacted USPTO receipt of my Sample Letter of Protest for a Bible verse.
Will It Work?
Sadly, this one may fail, as the deadline for opposing was yesterday (30 days after the application is published for opposition).
[Update 5/7/2020: It looks like it worked! See this post.]
I filed this anyway because I only checked on it this morning, and since it is a simple, CLEAR ERROR on USPTO’s part, I’m hoping they’ll accept it past the deadline. (It took longer to write this blog post than it did to prepare and file the LOP.) We’ll see.