The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has rejected a trademark application for registration of the term MOTT’S for use in association with baby food. In rejecting the trademark application, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found, under Section 2(e)(4), that MOTT’S is not an inherently distinctive surname due to fame. The TTAB noted that the surname Mott appears 5,819 times in a public database and argued that Samuel Mott’s, the founder of Mott’s, personal history was not notable enough to serve as an exception to the surname refusal, which requires a surname to correspond to a “historical person.”
Mott’s has obtained other trademarks in association with other products, but those registrations contain the surname “Mott’s” and an additional term. Here, Mott’s sought registration for the surname for use in association with a product that it had only been using for a short period of time. Consequently, Mott’s could not argue that it had acquired distinctiveness in the term through a longstanding use in commerce in association with baby food to support its application for registration.