Last updated on June 26th, 2020
When filing a Letter of Protest against an 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 to 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 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 here, this evidence would be inadequate for a post-publication Letter of Protest. Dave’s method works well early in the process, which is where anyone fighting questionable trademarks should concentrate their efforts. But sometimes, as in this one, things get farther along before the application is discovered.
- Description of Evidence I Used: “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).”
- To see a redacted USPTO receipt for filing (to double-check how to complete the form), click here.
Will It Work?
Sadly, this one may fail, as the deadline for opposing was yesterday (30 days after the application is published for opposition). 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.