One of the most obvious and important principles of intellectual property law is that you need a unique trademark to obtain legal protection of the mark and to avoid infringement liability. However, in a recent Supreme Court case we discussed on our blog late last year, the Court established that booking.com could receive trademark recognition even though its name was generic.
As we discussed in last year’s blog post, this is a good thing for many businesses with similarly simple trademarks. However, as a business owner, you should think twice before registering a trademark that could fall into the category of “generic.com.”
Why a unique trademark is still important
You should still err on the side of a more unique trademark because a weaker trademark could result in:
- Reduced trademark protection: Even while the United States Supreme Court allowed booking.com to obtain trademark protection, it acknowledged that the company would be accepting a weaker mark and thus it would have more difficultly in bringing an infringement claim.
- Likelihood of confusion: In addition to other companies intentionally infringing on your trademark, many will do so unintentionally. With the case of booking.com, it is easy to imagine how potential customers could be easily led to other, similar sites for companies that do any kind of “booking.” The confusion created here is simply bad marketing.
- Limited brand appeal: Possible customer confusion is only one aspect of the marketing piece here. Another is that a unique, focused and original trademark is more attractive to potential customers. It is more memorable, as well, which results in people searching for your company by name rather than looking for any company that provides the same product or service.
If possible, take time to consider a way to focus your trademark to set your brand apart from the competition, appeal to more potential customers and improve your trademark protection.