There are a wide variety of trademarks that are ineligible for federal protection. The below list is not therefore intended to be an exhaustive list, but highlights some of the major types of trademarks that are ineligible for federal protection. A trademark must not:
- Contain the U.S. flag
- Contain the name, likeness or signature of living persons, unless they give consent (this protection is extended to deceased Presidents, whose widows must give consent)
- Contain government insignias
- Disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons (living or dead), institutions, beliefs, or national symbols
- Are too similar to existing trademarks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
- Comprise immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter. Although the USPTO rarely denies federal trademark protection on these grounds, it can happen: Note that the Washington Redskins recently lost trademark protection on the grounds that the USPTO found that their mark was disparaging to Native Americans at the time it was registered.