Bluecar is a small electric car designed by the French conglomerate Bollore Group (Bollore) and produced in cooperation with Pininfarina, an Italian car design company.
Bollore applied for a U.S. trademark registration for BLUECAR for a number of different goods in a few classes, including electrically powered vehicles such as scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, trolleys, forklifts, boats and electric motors and transmission assemblies for electrically powered vehicles, in Class 12.
The examining attorney rejected the Class 12 goods on the ground that the mark BLUECAR is “merely descriptive” because the goods could encompass blue colored electric cars.
Bollore appealed the examining attorney’s final rejection to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Board).
On appeal, Bollore argued that use of the mark in connection with its environmentally friendly vehicles creates a double entendre because the word “blue” in BLUECAR evokes an image of cleaner, bluer skies:
Driving applicant’s vehicles, therefore, is a way for consumers to “live green” by reducing their carbon emissions and helping to make the skies cleaner and bluer. . . . Consumers would easily recognize this second connotation or meaning through the use of the word “blue.”
In support of its argument, Bollore cited instances of environmental organizations and clean energy companies that use the word “blue” such as the Blue Planet Foundation and Blue Sky Energy.
The Board agreed with Bollore and reversed the final rejection, finding the mark not merely descriptive of the cars but either arbitrary or suggestive of environmentally friendly vehicles:
potential purchasers will perceive BLUECAR, not as merely describing the cars, even the cars which may be blue. Rather potential purchasers will perceive BLUECAR either as an arbitrary mark, or perhaps as a mark suggesting a clean, blue sky, that is, that the electric powered vehicles are environmentally friendly, as applicant argues.
Is green losing its monopoly as the color of environmentally friendly products and services? Perhaps blue is the new green.