Slogans can be registered as trademarks. In a recent conversation with another Pittsburgh patent lawyer, the issue of how to register a slogan in connection with t-shirts was raised.
Two issues to be concerned with when trying to register a slogan are as follows:
1) Slogans that are considered to be merely informational in nature or statements that would ordinarily be used in business are not registrable. TMEP § 1202.04. An example of this is “THE BEST BEER IN AMERICA.” See In re Boston Beer Co. L.P., 198 F.3d 1370 (Fed. Cir. 1999). A slogan can function as a trademark if it is not merely descriptive or informational. TMEP § 1202.04; and
2) Slogans used on t-shirts and sweatshirts have been refused registration as ornamentation that purchasers will perceive as conveying a message rather than indicating the source of the goods. TMEP § 1202.03(f)(i). Cases have held that when a slogan is printed across a t-shirt or sweatshirt, it is likely to be perceived as lacking any source-indicating significance.
Before trying to register a slogan one should consider if the slogan is merely information or a normal statement, and also how the slogan is being used. If the slogan appears on a t-shirt, the t-shirt should also have a tag displaying the slogan on the shirt, so that the tag may be a sufficient source indicator.