On Tuesday, June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth Circuit’s holding that BOOKING.COM is a protectable trademark. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had refused registration of Booking.com’s housemark, finding that the mark was generic—in other words, a term that consumers understand as primarily the common or class name for the underlying services. The specific issue before the Court was “[w]hether the addition by an online business of a generic top-level domain (“.com”) to an otherwise generic term can create a protectable trademark.” The Court ultimately sided with the popular online travel company Booking.com in an 8-1 decision, holding that “[a] term styled ‘generic.com’ is a generic name for a class of goods or services only if the term has that meaning to consumers.” The ruling paves the way for the registration of “generic.com” terms upon a showing of acquired distinctiveness—but obtaining such registrations will not be easy, or cheap.
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