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What Can’t Be Registered?

Besides not being able to register descriptive words, generic terms, or certain geographic terms in a trademark, there are a few other restrictions on trademark registration.

Prohibited trademarks include the following:

• Disparaging, scandalous or immoral material;

• Coats of arms, flags or other indications of government (although elements of flags used as part of a design are acceptable);

• The name, portrait or signature of a living person (without consent) or a US President;

• A name that is primarily a surname; or

• The Olympic rings, or the words "Olympic," "Olympiad," "Citius Altius Fortius," "Pan American," "Paralympic," "Paralympiad," "America Espirito Sport Fraternite," or any combination of these words.

(There is an exception for trademarks that were first used before September 21, 1950 and for trademarks used in Washington State, home of the Olympic mountain range.)


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