UPS: United Problem Solvers

Takeaway: UPS started a campaign to give “UPS” an acronymically new meaning—United Problem Solvers, possibly trying to both broaden its scope of trademark protection as well possibly using that platform to be more than just a mail courier.

Given that UPS (“United Parcel Service”) is notably powerful and well-known trademark, it is no surprise that many applications for “UPS” in other goods, such as carpet and rugs, were denied registration.

For those that were able to overcome UPS’s broad trademark rights, the more successful applicants closely linked the acronym to fully spelled out words and branded their mark in a graphically distinct manner, such as United Properties Southwest.

Under the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (“TMEP”), “[a]s a general rule, an acronym or initialism cannot be considered descriptive unless the wording it stands for is merely descriptive of the goods or services, and the acronym or initialism is readily understood by relevant purchasers to be “substantially synonymous” with the merely descriptive wording it represents.”

Interestingly, UPS recently started a campaign to create a new meaning for UPS, “United Problem Solvers” and in order to obtain a federal trademark registration; UPS has recently opposed registration of “Problem Solvers,” by Legion Logistics, LLC, and contending likelihood of confusion with UPS’s prior registration of “Packaging Problem Solvers.”

Therefore, it seems like UPS may be trying to broaden its scope of trademark protection for its potential services under “UPS” through its new campaign.