The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday issued an initial rejection of an attempt by the Baltimore Ravens to trademark “Charm City,” one of the most widely used nicknames for Baltimore City.

“Registration is refused because the applied-for mark is primarily geographically descriptive of the origin of applicant’s goods and/or services,” the federal office’s “Non-Final Action” states.

The federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has ruled that the Trademark Act leaves “geographic names free for all businesses operating in the same area to inform customers where their goods or services originate,” the document says.

It cites evidence that Charm City is a “commonly used nickname that refers to Baltimore, Maryland, a generally known geographic place or location,” as well as other evidence.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The Ravens applied for the trademark in February in connection with posters, calendars, trading cards, books relating to football, and more, according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

They also listed its use on “Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing used in the promotion of a professional football team by the name of the Baltimore Ravens,” as well as entertainment services, “namely, professional football games and exhibitions,” according to the application.

In a statement, the Ravens said that “the intent of this trademark filing is not to prevent anyone from the general use of ‘Charm City.’ We understand that ‘Charm City’ is a commonly utilized moniker by many entities, and we fully respect that.”

“Our trademark filing is specific to anything in connection with, or relating to, Baltimore Ravens professional football. This includes team marketing campaigns — such as ‘Charm City Football,’ which is used to represent the history of football in Baltimore — slogans, merchandise and promotional items,” the team added.

The Ravens have to write a response to the action within three months or pay a fee to extend another three months, said Vasilios Peros, the principal and founder of a Baltimore law firm focused primarily on business, technology and intellectual property law.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

If the Ravens do not respond to the examiner, the application is abandoned, according to a USPTO timeline.

The team could file a response to the federal examiner or make changes to its application. The examiner could then register the trademark or issue a final action rejecting it. But the Ravens could take the final action to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

The Ravens are represented by local law firm Saul Ewing LLP in their pursuit of the trademark. An attorney representing the team in the matter did not respond to a request for comment.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The city is fiercely protective of beloved local names and sayings, and trademarks over them have sparked controversy in the past.

In 2010, when it was revealed that Cafe Hon owner Denise Whiting trademarked the term of address “hon,” the move prompted outrage among many.

Some felt Whiting had wrongfully claimed ownership over a word long used by Baltimoreans, which had not always been associated with Cafe Hon.

”You can’t own something that doesn’t belong to you. You shouldn’t be allowed to control use of something that has been in use by Baltimore’s extended family for years,” an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun read.

In 2011, Whiting announced she would relinquish the trademark as part of a taping of the reality series “Kitchen Nightmares.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“It was never mine to have in the the first place,” she said.

The nickname “Charm City” emerged from a marketing campaign that ran in the mid-1970s, under then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer, who wanted to promote Baltimore’s image after Sports Illustrated dubbed the city “a loser’s town.”

Several advertising executives met for a creative conference and one executive wrote a line that inspired the name: “Baltimore has more history and unspoiled charm tucked away in quiet corners than most American cities out in the spotlight.”

Now, many businesses in and around Baltimore have “Charm City” in their names, such as Charm City Meadworks, Charm City Run, Charm City Cakes, and Charm City Buffet & Grill.

cadence.quaranta@thebaltimorebanner.com