Despite a faithful following, Dunkin' Donuts will not be allowed to trademark the phrase "Best coffee in America."
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said in a decision this month that Dunkin Donuts of Canton, Mass., could not trademark the phrase, which would give the company exclusive use of the slogan.
"Businesses as well as consumers use the wording 'best coffee' and 'best coffee in America' to refer to a wide variety of coffee shops and coffee brands," the office wrote in its Nov. 9 decision.
The Patent and Trademark Office decision said similar phrases like "best car in America," or "best restaurant in town" are slogans that amount to "mere puffery."
The decision notes that other brands have been chosen as having the "best coffee." For example, Starbucks Coffee is listed as the best coffee in the 2011 Zagat Fast-Food Survey.
"Such claims of superiority should be freely available to all competitors in any given field to refer to their products or services, subject to whatever limits the law may impose on truthful advertising and unfair competition," the office wrote in its decision.
Dunkin' Brands Inc. spokeswoman Jessica E. Gioglio said in a prepared statement Tuesday, "We are reviewing the filing and cannot speculate on future plans at this time."
This isn't the first time a Massachusetts company was shot down for trying to trademark a claim at being the best. In 1993, the makers of Samuel Adams beers filed an application with the Patent and Trademark Office to register the phrase "The best beer in America."
The brewer, Boston Beer Co., said it received awards at the Great American Beer Festival and provided other substantiation. Boston Beer Co. appealed the Patent and Trademark Office's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld the office's decision in 1999.