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Joel Feldman, Greenberg Traurig, Atlanta

The Hot Take

For the third time in four years, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Trademark Office, both at the examination and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) levels, had examination guidelines that led to the improper refusal to register an applied-for mark. In United States Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., 591 U.S. ____ (2020), the Trademark Office urged the court to adopt a bright-line rule that the combination of a generic term + .com is always generic and therefore incapable of federal registration. In an 8-1 decision Tuesday, the court declined to establish such a rule, opining that each “generic.com” mark must be evaluated on its merits based on the prevailing consumer perception of the applied-for mark. Consequently, the court did not disturb the lower court’s holding that BOOKING.COM is a protectable trademark because BOOKING.COM has a quantifiable source-identifying significance to consumers independent from the word booking.

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