When Being The Best Is Not Enough . . .
Dunkin’ Donuts has found the hard way that being the self-styled best isn’t good enough. The United States Patent & Trademark Office has refused to register its slogan “Best Coffee in America,” as being merely descriptive and not having a secondary meaning to consumers.
Dunkin’s prime claim to trademark registration is that the slogan became distinctive over the five years that Dunkin’ used it. However, the USPTO noted that similar self-praising slogans like “The Best Beer in America” (Boston Beer or America’s Freshest Ice Cream for Carvel Ice Cream is considered “puffery” and is not registrable.
The “Best” coffee in the United States is inherently subjective. While it is possible that there is some general agreement about what might be best in a certain industry, coffee is probably not one of them. Your favorite barista’s coffee might surpass, in your mind, anything found at the most expensive coffee shops in the world. Every shop thinks it makes its product the best – the consumers, not the USPTO, decide.
Dunkin’ Donuts will have to fall back on another product, like donuts. Mmmm, donuts.