Booking.com seeking trademark license from U.S. Government

Posted at 12:03 PM, May 1, 2020 and last updated 2:05 PM, May 1, 2020

By Court TV Staff

For the first time in history, the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing live streaming of their court arguments beginning Monday, May 4. Ten cases will be heard in front of SCOTUS over the following weeks, the first case being the United States Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com.

 

Popular travel site Booking.com is seeking a trademark license from the U.S. Government. The company wants “Booking Dot Com” to be their legally protected term. In 2016, the United States Patent & Trademark Office turned down their applications, but the Fourth Circuit Court agreed with the travel company and ordered the Federal agency to hand over a trademark license. Instead, USPTO appealed to the Supreme Court.

Trademark attorney Rebecca Gan, formerly of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, claims obtaining the extra protection of a dot com trademark can be an avenue for big corporations to block less profitable ones, saying, “The Supreme Court precedent of dating back to 1888, is we don’t care how much time or money you spend, if the word is generic, if it is the thing that it is referencing, then you can’t ever own that because your competitors need to be able to use it.”

However, intellectual property attorney Jim Bikoff thinks the Justices might be swayed by public feedback, saying, “(Booking.com) had a survey conducted of consumers to see how consumers perceive the mark to be and 74.8% of the consumers identified Booking.com as a brand name. That’s a very powerful and strong survey results.”

Decisions on generics appear to vary. Mattress.com and Lawyers.com were also denied trademarks, while other companies received full approval such as The Container Store, Cooking.com, Weather.com and Dating.com, Bikoff said. He adds if SCOTUS does not grant Booking.com a trademark, “It would create some chaos…, because it would then jeopardize the protection that many of these other marks have already obtained.”

A win in Washington, D.C. won’t impact the website bevy of domains owned by the travel site, but Gan says it could increase the company’s ability to legally block others in the reservations industry.

 

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