Friday, July 31, 2015

Domain Name & Trademarks - Is a Suffix an Identifier?

Intellectual Property Law
Can a generic top-level domain (gTLD) just be considered as part of a web address or should it be considered a source of the domain name registry?  Top-level domains (TLDs) are administered by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for the domain name system we call the internet.

 One can simply see it as a suffix at the end of a domain name (DN). The USPTO is concerned that the general public would construe the suffix as part of the DN and not serving as intended which is to be a source indicator for the registry.  Given that concern, it does not meet the criteria as a valid component to be considered as inclusive in a trademark.

As we follow gTLDs filed applications such as Vox Populi Registry’s “.sucks,” it would be worthy to note what effort will be made to demonstrate that the intended mark will be construed by the general public as a source indicator by employing a marketing campaign.

The burden will be to overcome the USPTO’s rebuttable presumption that it is not issuable as a trademark.  Whether “.sucks” engages in marketing in order to enhance its filing’s success, whatever efforts are taken they will have to demonstrate normal course of business as they may use T-shirts and condoms in their marketing distribution system.  Their marketing may shed some light on what goods the mark will be approved on.

Meanwhile, Vox Populi administers the Trademark Clearinghouse or TMCH that processes names of registrants seeking to protect their name from being associated with negative suffix connotations.  

Lorenzo Law Firm, P.A. copyright 2015

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