‘Capsule’ Merely Descriptive for Cell Phone Cases

Written June 12, 2019

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on June 11, 2019, held that the word “capsule” is “merely descriptive” of cell phone cases and cannot be registered as a trademark. Uncommon, LLC v. Spigen, Inc., 7th Cir., No. 18-1917, 6/11/19.

Uncommon LLC owned a trademark registration for “Capsule” cell phone cases and sued Spigen Inc. for trademark infringement based on Spigen’s line of cell phone cases, which includes trademark registrations for “Capsule Capella,” “Capsule Solid,” and “Air Capsule.” Spigen countersued to cancel Uncommon’s registration.

The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled for Spigen, canceling Uncommon’s registration because “Capsule” was descriptive.

The Seventh Circuit upheld the district court’s decision and found the mark was descriptive because it “directly conveys an idea: coverage, storage, protection—encapsulation—all of which the cellphone cases provide.”