Generic words combined with ‘.com’ can be a valid trademark says US Supreme Court in Booking.com trade mark dispute

On Tuesday, the U.S Supreme Court sided with travel reservation giant Booking.com by giving the company the green light to trade mark their name.

The application which was initially denied by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for being too generic, saw the owners of Booking.com, Booking Holdings, argue that the rejection of its registration would put consumers at risk of being misled or confused by other reservation companies – after all, one of the key objectives of trade mark law is to prevent consumers from being misled.

In the 8-1 decision, the US Supreme Court affirmed the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the well-known Booking.com was registrable as a U.S trade mark.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote  “We have no cause to deny Booking.com the same benefits Congress accorded other marks qualifying as nongeneric.” In return, Justice Stepehen Breyer urged the court to refuse the registration of booking.com in accordance with US trade mark laws.

The Booking.com case which has set precedence for future generic trade marks that include ‘.com’ in their applications, was the U.S Supreme Court’s first ever remote oral argument.

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