This is not the first time Umami Burger has run into an issue regarding the descriptiveness and commonality of its mark. During the federal trademark registration process, the owner of Umami Burger was issued an office action because the examiner believed the mark was merely descriptive of the features, ingredients and purpose of applicant’s services. The examiner stated:
The word UMAMI is defined as: “a taste that is characteristic of monosodium glutamate and is associated with meats and other high-protein foods. It is sometimes considered to be a fifth basic taste along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.” The word BURGER is defined as: “a sandwich consisting of a bun, a cooked beef patty, and often other ingredients such as cheese, onion slices, lettuce, or condiments.” See attached dictionary definitions. Applicant’s restaurant is a BURGER restaurant. The primary food item found on the menu (see specimen of use) is BURGERS. The word UMAMI describes a flavor of food. In this case, it specifically describes a flavor found in applicant’s BURGERS. As such, the proposed mark merely describes the identified goods and, thus, registration on the Principal Register is refused.
Even though the mark is federally registered, it is still a weak mark and may have some trouble holding up in court. Even though preliminary injunction was denied, this Texas-sized lawsuit is far from over. Stay tuned for updates as they break.