The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has affirmed a
refusal to grant Empire Technology Development a trademark for
“coffee flour,” finding “clear evidence of generic use” of the term.
In re Empire Tech. Dev. LLC, Serial No. 85876688 (TTAB,
entered August 3, 2017). The company, which created the flour
from ground coffee cherry skins, pulp and pectin, claimed first use
of the mark in 2012. TTAB found that Empire “failed to develop
and promulgate a generic term other than ‘coffee flour’ and to
educate the public to use some other name” and used coffee flour
as a generic term in its advertising materials and in media
coverage. To allow trademark protection for a generic term, even
when identified with a first user, would grant the owner a
monopoly because a competitor could not describe the product as
what it is, the board said. Moreover, the board said Empire’s
failure to police the usage “undercuts” its claim that the public
would understand coffee flour to be anything other than a generic


Issue 644

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.