Online services tend to use descriptive names, often identical to the used domain name (URL). This makes it easier for customers to find them. One of those services: Booking.com, the Dutch company that lets you book a hotel room anywhere in the world. A market leader, and one of the most well-known in the online hotel booking business. But also one with a descriptive name, at least according to the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The Appeal Board of the USPTO recently affirmed a refusal to register de name BOOKING.COM, considering it is not distinctive and merely describes the services, namely services for “travel agency and tourist agency services” and “making hotel reservations and resort information“.
The Board found booking.com’s evidence inadequate to prove acquired distinctiveness, “especially because it does not focus on demonstrating actual market recognition of BOOKING.COM as a source indicator.”.
What also didn’t help is that the booking.com website used the word “booking” both as a noun meaning a hotel reservation and a verb meaning to make such a reservations. And that’s a big trademark faux-pas.
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