Generic.com Terms Are Not Per Se Generic

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a generic word like “booking” combined with “.com” can achieve trademark registration even if the generic word alone cannot. The opinion, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, rejected the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s nearly per se argument that “generic.com” terms are ineligible for trademark registration regardless of consumer perception evidence.  “Whether any given ‘generic.com’ term is generic, we hold, depends on whether consumers in fact perceive that term as the name of a class or, instead, as a term capable of distinguishing among members of the class.”  A footnotes lists evidence useful for this inquiry: “not only consumer surveys, but also dictionaries, usage by consumers and competitors, and any other source of evidence bearing on how consumers perceive a term’s meaning.” 

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