A Significant Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Ruling Involving Use of Internet Evidence

Charlotte, NC/Charleston, SC – The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has issued an important decision on the use of the Internet in trademark cases and the law of descriptiveness.

Charlotte patent, trademark, and intellectual property attorneys, Philip Summa and Rebeca Harasimowicz of Summa PLLC ( successfully argued on behalf of SpiritLine Cruises LLC of Sumter, SC that ‘Charleston Harbor Tours’ does not qualify for trademark by Tour Management Services, Inc. because the mark is primarily geographically descriptive under Section 2(e)(2) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(e)(2) and lacks acquired distinctiveness.

“This precedential TTAB ruling impacts the use of Internet evidence, descriptiveness in trademark law, and issues common in the travel and tourism industry” says Summa.


Among the important factors in arguing the case were the use of Wayback Machine evidence, along with testimony from an official of the Internet Archive, and other tour operators in Charleston.

As noted in The TTABlog® by John L. Welch, ‘The Board found the Opposer SpritLine’s Wayback Machine evidence and testimony and the third-party corroborative testimony “show fairly pervasive use of the same wording in the proposed mark by others in the industry during the relevant timeframe.” This evidence undermined applicant’s claim of substantial exclusivity and created “a serious problem for Applicant, because it interferes with the relevant public’s perception of the designation as an indicator of a single source.”

About Summa PLLC

Specializing in Intellectual Property and Patent Law, Summa PLLC is located in the Matthews suburb of Charlotte, NC. The firm is led by Philip Summa, and has three attorneys. Rebeca Echevarria Harasimowicz was instrumental in the development and briefing of the case (Both pictured on the left).

About SpiritLine Cruises

SpiritLine and its sister company Fort Sumter Tours have been operating In Charleston, South Carolina since 1961. They have safely conducted 100,000 cruises and transported more than 12 million passengers in and around Charleston Harbor.


Contact Information:

Chuck Robbins: [email protected] 704.839.3520