claire-anderson-60670-unsplash-1It's once again time to look to the Supreme Court for its determination on a matter of great import to the very foundation of our nation as one still capable of upholding its laws, norms and traditions in the face of wanton disregard of those very precepts.

I am of course referring to the trademark case that has made its way to that most august of bodies for ultimate judgment. (Perhaps not ultimate - all involved might need to wait until they shuffle off this mortal coil to find if they're subject to that.) The case in hand involves the website, property of the parent company Booking Holding, Inc., and the matter of trademark over the name of the site. The company has been around for several years, as those who have seen their ads can attest, and have filed for trademarks associated with the brand; now the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision awarding those trademarks.

It's the contention of the USPTO that the name is too generic to warrant trademark protection, as "booking" is a common enough term for making reservations for trip accommodations, and that simply adding ".com" isn't enough to distinguish it from the generic term in a way that makes it worthy of a trademark. The USPTO rued as such in 2016 in rejecting the trademark applications, only to have their decision overruled in the 4th Circuit, which determined that, indeed, adding ".com" was enough to elevate it beyond standards of banality.

As would be expected, and its parent company is maintaining that the company is one of the most recognized names in online travel reservations, regardless of what is a fairly basic name. That would seem to get at the larger tension in the case for those companies looking to build their brands: you want to find a name and a domain that is easy for consumers to remember, but in being overly simple you run the risk of being ruled generic. Thus we end up with seemingly countless companies and apps with names that are ostensibly clever plays on common terms, like "Lyft" or any number of others that try and thread that needle.

This case is one that must weigh heavily on the minds of the justices, and is undoubtedly what all the chatter over Supreme Court decisions must be about, surely.