United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
198 F.3d 1370 (1999)
The Boston Beer Co. (Boston Beer) (plaintiff) filed an application to register the phrase “The Best Beer in America” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on November 30, 1993. Boston Beer argued that it had used the phrase in its advertising since 1985 and that the phrase had obtained secondary meaning, making it distinct. This application was rejected on the ground that the term was a merely descriptive phrase that had been used by many other beer brands in the past. Boston Beer then appealed the examining attorney’s decision to the United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The application was remanded back to the examining attorney with the new evidence that Boston Beer had recently received awards at the Great American Beer Festival. The examining attorney found that the phrase was still a generic term that described any beer in America that had won a taste competition or award. Boston Beer then filed second and third supplemental briefs, arguing that there was no “best beer in America” award, and thus the term was not generically describing beers that won awards in America. The TTAB found that the phrase was merely descriptive and not generic. However, the TTAB still rejected Boston Beer’s application, because all competitors should have the opportunity to claim the superiority of their products or services, and there was no secondary meaning inherent in the descriptive phrase. Boston Beer then appealed the TTAB’s decision.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Mayer, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 221,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,100 briefs, keyed to 189 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.