Healthcare.gov vs. Florida Health Choices

Almost one year ago, I wrote a blog titled “What’s in a brand?” In it, I reviewed Florida Health Choices’ first use of the tagline “Health Insurance Marketplace,” the reason it was chosen as our official slogan, and our efforts to develop and protect the brand.

A few days later, on January 30, 2015, attorneys representing Florida Health Choices formally filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) (Application number 86515931). The application describes the logo as it is used by Florida Health Choices and registered with the state’s Division of Corporations, including an artistic arc over the words “Health Choices” and the slogan “Health Insurance Marketplace.”

As with all applications to the federal trademark office, it had to go through internal reviews, during which time other trademarks were researched to ensure no apparent conflict existed. With no conflicts found, the application and trademark was approved for publication on June 18, 2015. It appeared in the official Gazette on August 11 of the same year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed a trademark application on April 14, 2015, approximately six weeks after Florida Health Choices’ had been submitted. The federal agency’s application sought to register the words “Health Insurance Marketplace” with no artistic description of the mark. That application was not approved to move forward with the USPTO stating that the term was generic.

After its own application failed to get a green light from the USPTO, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services began filing documents against the pending application submitted by Florida Health Choices. It started with an Extension of Time to Oppose, which was filed on September 8, and a Notice of Opposition, filed on December 9. Florida Health Choices was provided with the customary number of days to respond to the federal agency’s opposition and did so on January 19, 2016. You can access our response here.

I fully expect the federal health care agency to respond in the coming weeks.



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