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.

Filed Under: hotels, trademarks
Companies: hotels.com


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  1. identicon
    Tristin, 28 Jul 2009 @ 9:07pm

    Bravo

    I say the harder it is to get a trademark, patent, copyright, etc., the better off the whole system is. There has been far too much of a shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to IP in the last several years. The IP offices seem content to allow just about anything and require other companies to fight the battle to invalidate patents, trademarks, etc. (e.g. Blackboard). It's hard to see this causing the hotels.com people any serious distress, other than that they won't be able to sue half the internet now.

    I don't see how this can be seen as troubling. How could another company use "hotels.com" to profit wrongly from hotels.com's image? As Mike said, anyone mentioning it would only help send traffic to hotels.com. Show me how this causes problems.

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