Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
hotels, trademarks

Companies:
hotels.com



Hotels.com Not Unique Enough To Get A Trademark

from the the-.com-isn't-unique? dept

Eric Goldman points us to the news that Hotels.com has had the trademark application on its own name rejected (warning: pdf) as being too generic. I have to admit I'm really, really surprised about this. I would think that the combination of "hotels" with a ".com" on the end switches it from being generic to distinct, since there's only one hotels.com. However, the trademark board and the court note that there are lots of other sites that use a combination of hotels and .com, such as www.all-hotels.com, www.web-hotels.com, www.my-discount-hotels.com. That could be true, but I think those are all different enough themselves from the straight hotels.com that even getting a trademark on hotels.com alone shouldn't prohibit those other sites from existing. But that's not what the court found, noting that hotels.com itself was perfectly generic and unprotectable by trademark. It's not clear how much this would actually matter, since anyone else using the phrase will ultimately end up helping to advertise hotels.com itself. However, it does raise significant questions about trademarks on other generic words plus a .com at the end.

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  1. identicon
    Tino, 29 Jul 2009 @ 4:32am

    what if goods/services have nothing to do with hotels?

    Examining a mark requires considering the mark itself and the goods are services the mark purports to identify. What if "hotels.com" were being used to identify a site having nothing to do with hotels? Then it could no longer be a generic mark and so it should be allowable? What if you wanted to sell "hotels.com" brand cola and you had no intention of even maintaining a site? Then the exact same mark would be "arbitrary and fanciful" and therefore entitled to registration?

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