Pro Se, Not Represented by an Attorney: Generic Term

This post is an addition to the previous post on “By Myself” trademark.

“나홀로” is a Korean word which means “By Myself” and it implies ‘pro se’ legal process. The Korean court denied the request to review the lower court’s decision to find “나홀로” as unregistrable on the basis of public interest. I think there is a provision in the Korean Trademark Act that directly and pertinently provides on that issue, which is Article 6(1)(3). It reads as follows:

제6조 (상표등록의 요건) ①다음 각호의 1에 해당하는 상표를 제외하고는 상표등록을 받을 수 있다. [개정 97•8•22]

3. 그 상품에 산지•품질•원재료•효능•용도•수량•형상(포장의 형상을 포함한다)• 가격•생산방법•가공방법•사용방법 또는 시기를 보통으로 사용하는 방법으로 표시한 표장만으로 된 상표

, which can be translated into:

Article 6 (Requirements of Trademark Registration) (1) A trademark may be registered unless it –

[3] consists of or comprises the place of origin, quality of product, source material, effect of product, use, quantity, shape (including the shape of packaging), price, method of production, method of processing, method of use, or time in general format.

I think “By Myself” is a trademark that consists of the method of production or use. My general idea about a fallback provision like ‘public interest’ provision is that judges only use it when they can’t find the right provision and this case isn’t. I might have to say the judges were a little bit lazy at the time of decision.

A comparable provision in the US Trademark Law (Lanham Act) is 15 USC Chapter 22 Section 1052(e) which reads:

Sec. 1052. (§ 2) Trademarks registrable on principal register; concurrent registration

No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it –

(e) Consists of a mark which (1) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of them, (2) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically descriptive of them, except as indications of regional origin may be registrable under section 1054 of this title, (3) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive of them, (4) is primarily merely a surname, or (5) comprises any matter that, as a whole, is functional.

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