Sifting through Trademark applications: Kumo, or Sift, or who knows what?

All this business about what the new name for Live Search might be has a lot of blog writers and journalists turning over all kinds of rocks, including lots of fun with TESS, the US Patent and Trademark Office’s online trademark search feature.  We’ve posted before on our diggings through TESS regarding Kumo, and indeed there’s been some slight movement in that department: the USPTO has sent a letter to Microsoft (on April 16), asking for a narrower definition of what Kumo would be used for, and noting that Microsoft might need to cough up some more cash:

The wording in the identification of services needs clarification because it is too broad and could include services classified in other international classes.

Therefore, applicant must either (1) restrict the application to the number of classes covered by the fee(s) already paid, or (2) submit the fees for the additional class(es).

The filing fee for adding classes to an application is as follows:

  1. $325 per class, when the fees are submitted with a response filed online via the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) …or
  2. $375 per class, when the fees are submitted with a paper response.

Yikes, in this tough economy, will Microsoft be able to afford another $325?

Then in an article posted today, our friend Joe Tartakoff of PaidContent.orgspotted the names Sift and Swivel.  We’re not sure about Swivel (an application for “operating system software for mobile phones”) but from our eager perusal of the Sift application, it appears to our non-lawyer trained eyes that the application was rejected, although  not finally.  In a document from the USPTO sent March 30, 2009:

Registration is refused because the applied-for mark merely describes the function of applicant’s goods and/or services. Trademark Act Section 2(e)(1), 15 U.S.C. §1052(e)(1); see TMEP §§1209.01(b), 1209.03 et seq.

A mark is merely descriptive if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the specified goods and/or services.

Applicant is applying for the mark “SIFT” for “computer programs for searching email, text messages, address and contact information,” in relevant part. The definition of “sift” is “to go through especially to sort out what is useful or valuable <sifted the evidence> —often used with through<sift through a pile of old letters>.” The attached excerpts from the Lexis/Nexis® database evidence that software may feature a sifting function. The applicant’s software is for sifting through email, text messages, and contact information. Thus, “SIFT” is descriptive of applicant’s goods in accordance with Section 2(e)(1) of the Act.

Although the examining attorney has refused registration, the applicant may respond to the refusal to register by submitting evidence and arguments in support of registration.

This is fun stuff, wheee!

None of these actions are final, and none of them tell us a dang thing, truthfully, as to what Microsoft’s intentions really are.  We have a feeling that a Yahoo Search deal may have something to do with naming and branding, and who knows, we may see “Yahoo Search by Microsoft” as a new brand when it is all said and done, but for now, we’ll keep digging just like everyone else.