Whole Foods: Patent Office Denies ‘World’s Healthiest Grocery Store’ Slogan
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will not allow Whole Foods Market Inc to claim the slogan “world’s healthiest grocery store” as its own. The application for the trademark has been denied because the slogan is merely descriptive not factual.
Whole Foods Market Inc. has been denied the usage of the slogan “world’s healthiest grocery store” by the U.S. Patent and Trademark. The office made the announcement on July 16.
In a lengthy letter sent to the supermarket chain, the United States Patent and Trademark Office said it could not trademark the slogan for several reasons.
The first being the fact the company is not present all over the world and is located in three countries, the United States, England, and Canada.
The second reason is that the slogan is not factual. Additionally, not many people are aware of the phrase “World’s Healthiest Grocery Store” is connected to Whole Foods because the company rarely uses it. The letter read in part:
“Registration is refused because the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or characteristic of applicant’s services. A mark is merely descriptive if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of an applicant’s good and/or services.”
The Texas-based company, which has been operating for the past 19 years, has six months to update and refile the case, but many experts have already predicted that it will ignore the decision.
Many high profile companies that have received rejection letters from the USPTO have discarded them and kept using their slogans.
For example in 2000, Papa John’s attempted to trademark their well-known slogan “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza,” but was rejected because it was unable to prove that it was using the very best ingredients to make their products, nor they were making better pizzas than their competitors.
Despite the rejection, the fast food giant kept using the now popular and famous sentence.
Jonathan Hyman, a partner at California-based intellectual property law firm Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, commented on the story by saying:
“Companies still try to trademark these sorts of affirmations anyway. Companies attempt to register these kinds of marks all the time, though it’s sometimes not successful.”
The expert went on to share a theory as to why the company was trying to get the slogan:
“The trademark application could be a sign that Whole Foods could be planning to expand its locations beyond just three countries.”
What are your thoughts on the U.S. Patent Office’s rejection of Whole Foods’ slogan?