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
    Mike V. Sardina, 28 Jul 2009 @ 11:37pm

    Re:Bravo

    I have to say that I agree with Tristan here... specifically, "the harder it is to get a trademark, patent, copyright, etc., the better off the whole system is."

    The more rigorous a review is undertaken before IP rights are granted, the more valuable these rights actually are to rights holders. The amount of uncertainty, in terms of what action constitute infringement, is reduced because there will be a rigorous review should result in the clearer definition of the scope of such rights.

    That being said, I believe that hotels.com, as a unitary mark, is arguably distinctive enough to warrant trademark protection.

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