Commercial Real Estate Marketing Public Relations

The Supreme Court Rules… and Who’s Zooming Who

September 13, 2020

The Supreme Court ruled in June that adding ".com" to an otherwise generic company name makes the name eligible for trademark protection under U.S. intellectual property law. It's a significant departure from past practice as enforced by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which denied Booking.com protection for its name, leading the company to appeal to the courts.

"We have no cause to deny Booking.com the same benefits Congress accorded other marks qualifying as nongeneric," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the majority opinion, CNN.com reported. During arguments before the court, lawyers for the Patent and Trademark Office asserted that the use of generic terms in business names cannot be protected as trademarks, and that even if a generic term has taken on a secondary meaning in context, it should not be able to be trademarked.

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The explosive use of Zoom software during the pandemic has piqued interest in similar-sounding company names (think Zume and Xoom) that suggest speed or something close-up.

We're reminded of the question: What's in a name? A name is a vessel that may literally carry meaning, or it may need to be defined.

If you'd like to know how we selected the name CRELIX for our agency about 18 months ago, check out this short video. If you'd like help naming a company, organization, property or product, let us know. We'll zoom right in on it.