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Robert L. Maier, Patent and Trademark Law Robert L. Maier

In 2011 and 2012, Booking.com, a digital travel company that allows consumers to make hotel and other reservations online, filed applications to register trademarks with various visual features, all for travel-related services, and all including the term “Booking.com.” See United States Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com B. V., No. 19-46, 2020 WL 3518365, at *3 (U.S. June 30, 2020). The trademark examiner at the USPTO, followed by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, rejected the applications on the ground that “Booking.com” was a generic term for the services, and was therefore ineligible for registration. According to the board, since “Booking” means making travel reservations and “.com” indicates a commercial website, consumers would necessarily understand “Booking.com” to refer to an online reservation tool for travel, tours, and lodgings. The board further indicated that even if “Booking.com” were descriptive, the term lacked any secondary meaning that would make it registrable.

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