I have a unique way of grading my customer's satisfaction in my clubs and would like to trademark the way this is done. The question I have is do I:
1. I register CSI separately and "Customer Satisfaction Index" Separately, and pay $275 for each?
2. I register CSI and state that it stands for "Customer Satisfaction Index' in my industry?<
3. I register "Customer Satisfaction Index" and just call use "CSI Score" to publish my customer's numbers without trademarking CSI?
You could waste a bunch of time and a bit of money by playing "do it yourself" in the iffy situation you describe.
What would be the specific goods or services that would be recited in the trademark registration(s) you hypothetically would seek?
And is the goal to prevent a competitor from presenting a "customer satisfaction index" for its services? I doubt that trademark law would provide a business with that sort of exclusionary power.
Seems to me that the folks that compete with Avvo.com have created a unique hierarchy of designations, namely the AV and BV ratings, which they seem to have successfully registered with USPTO. That hasn't prevented Avvo from coming up with their own numerical ratings on a scale up to 10.0. Coincidentally, the company that gave the world the term AV, have more recently chosen to append to the alphabetical ratings such as AV a numerical designation, running from 0 to 5.0. As the German soldier on Laugh In said: verrrry interesting.
No one on Avvo can provide a definitive answer - or even whether you will succeed at obtaining a trademark registration - based on the limited information you have provided.
If this matter is important enough, retain a trademark lawyer for an hour to analyze your situation and recommend whether and how you should proceed.
You need a better mark. But more than that, you need a better lawyer than yourself. Sorry for sounding so harsh, but you are not getting the point since you keep asking the same question and expecting a different answer. So let me try to be more blunt.
You are NOT going to get a registration for Customer Satisfaction Index, a merely descriptive term. If your competitors like that they can just adopt it and then where are you? (Out lots of money and looking foolish when you lose.) If you try to register it you will be taking a counterproductive step since you will end up having to disclaim it and that will be an admission against interest that will open it up for all your competitors to adopt. And, yet you say that is what you are intending to do. All you are really doing is showing how foolish you are to be doing this without a lawyer. You can ask a dozen questions here and you still won't know enough to do this on your own. You are as bare of trademark knowledge as your strippers are bare of clothes. JD Power tried four times to capture that term and failed. Any reasonably competent trademark lawyer would find that out quickly with what is called a TESS search.The National Marine Manufacturers Association, Inc. obtained a registration that combined CSI and a logo design and the phrase "customer satisfaction index" and the the phrase "marine industry" only after disclaiming the phrases "marine industry" and "customer satisfaction index" as generic. That actually hurt them because it now means they cannot claim any rights to the phrase "customer satisfaction index" by virtue of that registration, and the registration will serve as an admission against interest that the term "customer satisfaction index" is generic. If you continue proceeding without a lawyer, you will also hurt yourself like the NMMA did. See http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=78307142&case....
As you are now aware, this may be a big problem from a trademark perspective, and even if you could employ a nuanced strategy such as using the Supplemental Register (assuming this is possible given the context) it is probably a waste of time because the phrase is too generic and you never want to start that way as it defeats the purpose of trademark. Further the onus is on the mark holder to police their own marks and you do not want to be forever policing a mark because that takes time, energy and money and the more generic/descriptive a mark the more policing it will require.
So what to do? I think you should think a bit harder about the mark and come up with something you can invest in that is "distinctive." I will link you to a very brief but helpful tutorial on how to pick a strong mark as well as an overview of the due diligence (clearance process) below. I then suggest that you reach out to a lawyer (perhaps several) of your choosing for a free phone consult and get some specific insights and find one you can work with to successfully brand.
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