Best Of The Trademark Bullies: Village Voice Sues Yelp Over 'Best Of' Lists
from the answer:-none dept
The EFF points out that the US Patent and Trademark Office is partly to blame for allowing registrations on such trademarks:
What is going on at the Patent and Trademark Office? For decades, folks have been complaining (with good reason) that the patent examiners need to do a better job of screening out bogus patent applications. It’s clear that the problem extends to the trademark side as well. The PTO has allowed companies and individuals to register marks in any number of obviously generic and/or descriptive terms, such as “urban homestead” (to refer to urban farms), “gaymer” (to refer to gay gamers), and “B-24” (to refer to model B-24 bombers).Separately, the EFF asks the most important question: who is actually being deceived here? There is no confusion. No one associates "best of" with the Village Voice. Everyone reads it as a perfectly normal descriptive term, rather than a trademark belonging to any single party.
Once a mark is registered, it is all too easy for the owner to become a trademark bully. And while companies like Yelp have the resources to fight back (as we expect it will), small companies and individuals may not. Just as dangerous, the trademark owner may go upstream, to intermediaries like Facebook who have little incentive to do anything other than take down an account or site that’s accused of infringement.