DICOM is a mark that is used to identify the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) as the source of a series of publications containing standards relating to digital communications in medicine. The DICOM mark has also come to identify NEMA as the source of certain trade association services relating to digital communications in medicine such as standards development, seminars, and government relations.
NEMA has applied to register the DICOM mark on the Principal Register of the United States Patent & Trademark Office as a trademark in the field of commerce for publications and printed matter (Class 16). The examination of the mark has concluded, the application has been allowed, no opposition has been filed to registration.
The DICOM mark is not a certification mark, and NEMA does not certify products to the standards in the DICOM publications. Product sellers, including computer hardware and software developers, effectively self-certify that their products are DICOM compliant when they use the DICOM mark in connection with their products. Indicative of the substantial meaning which the marketplace has attached to the DICOM mark for NEMA's publications containing these standards, many companies use the DICOM mark to refer to their products indicating self-certification or compatibility with those standards in the DICOM publications.
NEMA does not have the ability to register the DICOM mark for use on computer hardware and software used in or with medical imaging equipment because NEMA is not a producer or seller of those products. NEMA does believe it is in the public interest that all firms making products such as computer hardware and software to which the standards for digital communications in medicine are relevant have the opportunity to use or refer to DICOM in connection with the sale of their products if they desire. Accordingly, NEMA opposes any effort by a company, which seeks to register a mark containing DICOM and does not disclaim exclusive right to use the DICOM term. Put another way, NEMA does not oppose the right of any company to register a mark for use in computer hardware and software merely because it contains DICOM, but NEMA will oppose any one company monopolizing the term "DICOM" for use in connection with computer hardware and software products. To the extent that any company wants to incorporate the term DICOM into their software product name, they should consult with their own company attorneys and be advised of the efforts of others to register marks containing the term DICOM.
The recent settlement between NEMA and Dicomit Imaging Systems Corporation relating to Dicomit's registration of the mark DICOM IMAGE MANAGER is illustrative of NEMA's views. The US Patent and Trademark Office required Dicomit to disclaim the terms Image Manager in connection with its application for the mark in conjunction with computer hardware and software. After the PTO published the mark for opposition, NEMA filed an opposition and negotiated a settlement with Dicomit which required them to disclaim DICOM as well. As a result of the settlement, Dicomit's application will proceed at the PTO but its rights are limited to the specific combination of words for which they seek registration. Dicomit will not be able to oppose anyone else seeking to register a mark for computer hardware and software containing the term DICOM, as long as that mark is not confusingly similar to DICOM IMAGE MANAGER mark.
When publishing documents in the future that refer to the DICOM Standards Publications or DICOM standards, the initial reference to DICOM should include the Circle R symbol, (r) in a superscript type after the term DICOM with a note at the bottom of the page that "DICOM is the registered trademark of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association for its standards publications relating to digital communications of medical information."
May 1, 2000.