In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled today that Booking.com can trademark Booking.com. This decision puts an end to an eight-year-long dispute. Booking.com has been trying to register its trademark since 2012, but over all these years it has been rebuffed by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The office is guided by US law, under which a generic term cannot be registered as a trademark (for example, the word ‘construction’ cannot serve as the trademark of a building company or the word ‘beer’ for a type of beer). On the other hand, Booking.com continued to insist that its name does not just imply an action, but taken as a whole, with the TLD, has become a trademark and most users, when using its website, understand that it is the website of a company and not an abstract resource that offers booking services.
During this long process, the US District Court and then the Court of Appeals where USPTO turned took the side of the company. However, the decision was never unanimous. The judges who opposed it noted that registering Booking.com as a trademark would create a dangerous precedent: in particular, it would allow the company go after other websites with the word ‘booking’ in its name (carbooking.com, flightbooking.com and so on). The Supreme Court took this into account and ruled that several regulations would ensure that the registration of “Booking.com” would not give its holder a monopoly on the term “booking,” according to Domain Name Wire.