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Supreme Court weighs Booking.com trademark battle

05/07/2020| 3:22:19 PM| 中文

Can a generic term followed by “.com” be used as a trademark? This is a question.

Hotel reservation company Booking.com Monday urged the Supreme Court to grant the company trademark protection for its name, even though generic terms are typically not eligible for trademarks.

At a first-of-a-kind hearing conducted via telephone and broadcast in real-time on C-SPAN, Booking.com lawyer Lisa Blatt contended that consumers recognize the phrase “Booking.com” as referring to a specific company. Therefore, Blatt argued, the business is entitled to a trademark, despite the generic nature of “booking.”

While the outcome of the case is hard to predict, several judges expressed concerns that allowing a company to trademark a generic term followed by “dot-com” would enable that company to monopolize language.

The battle over the site's name dates to 2016, when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Booking.com's request for trademark. Booking.com then challenged that decision in court.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia sided with the company in 2017, ruling that even though the word "booking" is generic, adding the top-level domain ".com" entitled the company to trademark protection.

Among other arguments, Booking.com argued in its written papers that trademark protection would allow the company “to prevent competitors from opening storefront Booking.com travel agencies, or from diluting its brand by selling Booking.com-themed travel products in airport shops.”

On Monday, Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg both suggested that Booking.com did not need a trademark to deal with those concerns, because it could sue typosquatters or fraudsters for unfair competition.

The court is expected to announce a decision within a few months.

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TAGS: Booking | Supreme Court | trademark
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