Law School Case Brief
Booking.com B.V. v. United States Patent & Trademark Office - 915 F.3d 171 (4th Cir. 2019)
Trademark law protects the goodwill represented by particular marks and serves the twin objectives of preventing consumer confusion between products and the sources of those products, on the one hand, and protecting the linguistic commons by preventing exclusive use of terms that represent their common meaning, on the other.
The district court concluded that BOOKING.COM was a protectable trademark but it also required plaintiff Booking.Com to pay the USPTO's attorneys fees under 15 U.S.C. § 1071(b)(3). Plaintiff appealed the payment of fees. The USTPO also appealed arguing that the district court erred in concluding that BOOKING.COM was a protectable mark.
Did the district court err in holding that BOOKING.COM was a protectable mark?
The district court did not err in concluding that BOOKING.COM was a descriptive, rather than a generic, mark, and thus, the mark was protectable. The court also affirmed the trial court’s findings that the USPTO failed to satisfy its burden of proving that the relevant public understood BOOKING.COM, taken as a whole, to refer to general online hotel reservation services rather than Booking.com the company. The court also held that the district court properly ordered plaintiff to pay the USPTO's attorney’s fees.
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