Terms that the relevant purchasing public understands primarily as the common or class name for the goods or services. These terms are incapable of functioning as trademarks denoting source, and are not registrable on the Principal Register under §2(f) or on the Supplemental Register. Examples include: CLASSES ONLINE for classes provided via the Internet, PIZZA.COM for pizza ordering and delivery services, and LIVE PLANTS for plant nurseries.
A trademark can become generic when it loses its ability to indicate a source of origin. When a substantial segment of the public thinks of a term as representing the object instead of being a trademark, it is generic and anyone can use it. To prevent trademarks from becoming generic, they should always be used as adjectives instead of nouns, and written or typed in a special form, e.g., with an initial or all capital letters helps, and with a trademark indicator, e.g. the “Circle R” (®) symbol.
By marketing goods, or providing services under a trademark, the trademark owner acquires certain protectable intangible property rights, referred to as “goodwill.” It takes time and effort to build goodwill, and it can sometimes be destroyed overnight. Goodwill becomes associated with the trademark and must be included when the trademark is sold or the transfer is void. However, there is more to transferring goodwill than making a recital, and the business or tangible assets associated with the trademark should be transferred as well. If the purchaser is already in business, then less is required from the assignor. The key is for the public to receive the same quality goods before and after the sale. The responsibility is the buyer’s to get whatever assets are required to achieve this goal.