US Supreme Court agrees to hear Dot-Com Trademark Issue


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The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case that whether a generic name along with a generic TLD is applicable for a trademark protection. The Supreme Court took the matter under its purview after there were differences between Trademark institutions and lower courts regarding whether Booking.com is a trademark or not.

It all began in 2012, when Booking.com applied to get stylized versions of “Booking.com to be trademarked. United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the appeal terming it as “generic”.   Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) also rejected, stating that “Booking” is a general term used to define a reservation and adding a .com after it does not add any specification, specialisation or change its meaning. This was based on federal law that governs trademarks, the Lanham Act. 

Booking.com then went to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The District Court reversed the judgement in favour of Booking .com after it submitted numerous evidences including customer survey. The court stated that adding “.com” identifies a source and is hence is transforms it into a descriptive mark that qualifies as a trademark upon showing of a secondary meaning. The Fourth Court also agreed with the decision and stated that Booking.com indicates to a brand rather than just reservations. However, it was at odds with the Federal and Ninth Circuits, involving domain names such as Hotels.com, Lawyers.com and Advertising.com.

The Supreme Court hence meddled in to solve the issue at hand. The apex code has to decide what constitutes a trademark in the domain name industry. The decision will have long implications that includes existing online firms as well as to the ones about to.


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Professor

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. In addition, my thoughts and opinions change from time to time I consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind. My posts on Domain Magazine are intended to provide a semi-permanent point in time snapshot and manifestation of the various memes running around my brain, and as such any thoughts and opinions expressed within out-of-date posts may not the same, nor even similar, to those I may hold today.

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