Can You Trademark The Price Of Something?

from the trademark-law-at-work dept

It looks like has lost out on their wish to have a trademark suit against them dismissed. The judge has ruled against a summary judgment. What’s interesting here is that the case concerns whether or not BN can make use of the phrase “Half Price Books.” That shouldn’t sound like a problem, except that there’s a company named, and they’re claiming they own the trademark on “Half Price Books” and BN’s use of it is diluting their brand. This seems like a stretch. “Half price books” is obviously descriptive, and not at all designed to have people confused that BN is somehow associated with HPB. In fact, HPB should be so lucky as to have people at BN thinking they’re really shopping at HPB. It would probably do them some good. Have I mentioned my plan to trademark “One Day Sale!”? I should be able to clean up with lawsuits like the one here if HPB wins.

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Comments on “Can You Trademark The Price Of Something?”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Shop there a lot

I have a HalfPrice Books within a mile of my home and I shop there frequently – and based on the number of people in the store, a lot of other people do, too.

They offer free coffee (unlike the local Borders and Barnes and Nobles stores that sell $4 cups of coffee) and have a huge selection of new and used books, magazines, software, music and movies all priced at half of suggested retail – or less.

When I need a book, the first place I look is HPB before I begin shopping online, not only will I get it immediately, but I’ll get it cheaper and not pay for shipping.

They even sell “books by the yard”, so if you want to look like a well educated lawyer/doctor/etc., you can purchase yards of similarly sized books to fill up bookcases.

While I don’t agree that “Half Price Books” is really a good trademark, the company itself is definately not something that should be cast aside or ignored.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

I second Oliver Wendall’s comments. Half Price Books is generally a decent company – community support, laid-back atmosphere, etc., so I’m suprised they would make this move. Of course there are a lot of Shady Lawyers ™ here in Dallas, so maybe they got talked into something. HPB also has a distinctive logo/sign which is more recognizable than just the words, so unless BN is using a similar-looking icon I really don’t understand how the two could be confused.

hi says:

here here!

I’ll come in on the side of Half Price Books on this one. This probably comes down to the need to defend your IP or otherwise lose it. If these people are smart they’ll just drop the suit after the judge rules that it wasn’t an infringement, but unfortunately only the lawyers win their fees on this one. At least then HPB will show that they do defend their IP and get to keep it

when I was in Texas (born, raised and educated) I used to frequent this store all too much… now in California I’m lucky to have something almost as nice in Mountain View…

Timothy Schmidt says:

BN vs. Half Price Books

The implication of your piece is that is someone trying to pull off a scam. Half Price Books is the largest chain selling new and used books in the country, with 82 stores in fifteen states. It has been in business for over thirty years. Some of those years generating more profit than the mighty Barnes and Noble. They have just as much right to protect their name as any other company. It is no more a stretch than Ohio University having the rights to the name “Ohio.”

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