Pasta Passes not Passing Trademark Examiner

Darden Restaurants owner of Olive Garden, applied to register “Never Ending Pasta Pass” for its promotion giving customer’s unlimited pasta for seven weeks for $100.  The Trademark Examiner rejected the mark’s “Pasta Pass” as “merely descriptive” and requiring those terms to be disclaimed.  Darden argued for reconsideration based on the wild popularity of the promotion, amounting to acquired distinctiveness and secondary meaning.

More importantly, a combined term mark (a multi-word mark) is not to be evaluated on each word individually (or partial combinations of words), rather, must be evaluated as a whole for its overall commercial impression.  Perhaps disclaiming “pasta” or “pass” would be acceptable but “pasta pass” seems to be an impermissible parsing of a combined term.

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