Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments via teleconference for the first time in its history. On the docket before SCOTUS is the Booking.com trademark, where Booking.com seeks trademark protection for its brand, which is comprised of a generic term and the .com domain name extension. The case has been followed closely by many people in the domain name business, but particularly industry attorneys:
— Jason Schaeffer (@TLDadvisor) May 4, 2020
There are quite a few news articles discussing the case, the arguments in front of SCOTUS, and the case background, which are worth reading:
SCOTUS Blog offers a particularly extensive background about the Booking.com case and background involving the case in front of SCOTUS. In addition, the blog post has links to many filings associated with the case, including the amicus brief filed by the Internet Commerce Association (ICA).
Nat Cohen highlighted a particularly interesting aspect of the discussing involving the “first mover advantages of using a generic [domain] name.”
This case is of interest to investors because of the ramifications of allowing Booking.com to trademark its brand. Other companies operating on generic domain names could add more trademark protections for their own brands following in the footsteps of Booking.com. This could potentially add value to generic .com domain names because they could later become brands that are more protected. There could also be repercussions for the generic terms in other extensions or similar terms that are generic in nature but potentially considered confusing.
It’s interesting to watch and hear Supreme Court justices speak about domain names, and this case will be worth following to its conclusion.