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Can somone trademark a generic term such as oregon real estate?..

Comments (20)

Terms that are purely descriptive for their market cannot be trademarked. A common word like 'chocolate' could be trademarked for cell phones, but not by a candy maker.

'Oregon Real Estate' is too generic to be trademarkable. Something like "Oregon's Most Beautiful Real Estate" maybe...

Comment #1

One other note. There can be a trademark issued for a stylized version of a generic term, essentially a logo of a generic term. For example, the owner of "oregon real estate" may not be able to TM the words themselves, but may be able to TM those words as a stylized logo. It wouldn't keep someone else from using the words, but would prevent them from making a logo with the words in the same style, graphics, or type font.

There will usually be a disclaimer in the TM stating the following:.


To see an example, go here:

And search the term: "city of Cleveland" and select the TM registration number 3283657.

You will see a city of Cleveland logo with a TM and those words, but the words themselves don't count as the TM, only the logo containing those words.

Occasionally you will see someone with one of these type TM's try to convince someone they hold a TM on the words themselves. Sometimes they don't know better, and sometimes they just hope you don't...

Comment #2

Can you trademark a domain name that is a name.

Say you were starting a clothing company and it was your name like can you have a TM for that. I just made up btw.

Can a Canadian have a USA Trademark?..

Comment #3

Dave is correct. Generic words can never be trademark protected as to the goods and services they describe. (i.e. windows could never receive trademark protection as to goods and services for window sales or related services). Generic words can receive trademark protection as to unrelated goods and services (i.e. 'windows' receives strong trademark protection as to software).

Descriptive words can sometimes be trademark protected. For a discussion on the difference between generic and descriptive words, Click Here.

If you plan on registering a descriptive word or combination of words, and you believe someone has trademark rights in those words, you should make sure that you find a non-infringing use.

Your example of "oregon real estate" is purely generic and unlikely to find trademark protection under any circumstances as related to goods and services related to real estate or property. If those words were used for, let's say, a reality tv program about recently dead people, it could find trademark protection...

Comment #4

APPLE computers - arbitrary, protectible as a mark.

APPLE the fruit - generic, not protectible as a mark.

Nothing is "generic" in a vacuum. But, as Mr. Schaefer points out, it is hard to imagine an arbitrary and protectible use of "Oregon Real Estate" that wouldn't be just downright weird.

And... you'd probably run into my favorite trademark legal phrase - 'deceptively misdescriptive'. For example, if I were selling real estate in Pennsylvania under the mark "Oregon Real Estate" then, well, my use of the term would not be generic to the sale of real estate in Pennsylvania. But it would be profoundly misleading.

Apple for a computer is not descriptive, but it is not deceptively misdescriptive because no consumer would make a purchasing decision on the basis of having been led to believe that the computer is somehow composed of or uses apples as an ingredient therein...

Comment #5

Excellent information being shared here, right to the point. Trademark 101...

Comment #6

On that evidence HOTELSITE trademarkable then? Because there is a national trademark for it. I mean ..that is a purely descriptive term is it not? A website about hotels. How could a TM have been granted for such a descriptive term then?..

Comment #7

HOTELSITE actually could achieve trademark status (even assuming there is not live registration). The word 'site' is not purely generic. 'Site' could mean different things achieving descriptive or even, in some circumstances, suggestive designation.

'HotelListings' is closer to being generic if used to list hotels on-line. 'Hotels' is purely generic for a site having to do with hotels...

Comment #8

You referring to this one?

I'd post the actual thing here but it's pretty comprehensive. Interestingly, it's.



And let's not forget a suggestive trademark like Coppertone for suntan and a.

Descriptive trademark like Holiday Inn for a chain of hotels.....

Comment #9

Look at these names and I think it will tell you the answer is a big yes:.

Gloria Vanderbilt.

Yves Saint-Laurent.

Ralph Lauren.

Giorgio Armani.

Calvin Klein.

Louis Vuitton.

Christian Dior.....

Comment #10

Yes there is: Here:

Here is a shot of the trademark:

As you can see..a German National mark. Does this mean it's only for protection in Germany?.

And also I registered my name a full year before this trademark was granted by the way.

Here is their main site:

They have many country tld's with this name as well...

Comment #11

Generally trademarks are "country-specific". But someone familiar with German.

Trademark laws/policies can better fill in, of course.

OTOH, someone from Germany can apply under the Madrid Protocol:

However, that applies only to countries who agreed to it...

Comment #12

I stand corrected, there seems to be a German TM for it. But since I do not read German nor do I know how their TMs work, I can't say for sure what is going on. But if you notice, the landing page does not include US destinations.

Binary, next time, it would been easy to say that it was a German TM so we don't have to search every country's TM database to understand what you are talking about.

But on that note, Zappos is Foreign word that is a TM in the US. It means shoes in Spanish (I beleive). Would this be the same circumstance where it is not deemed genereic in Germany since it is not a German word?..

Comment #13

Dave Zan and DNQUEST,.

Thnx to both of you for replying. DN..You are right I should have mentioned it was a German mark. You might have a point there about Hotelsite not being deemed generic in Germany as it's not a German word. Germany is a member of the Madrid Protocol though but the owner of the hotelsite sites did not register the name with them. Or maybe he did recently and it is just not showing up yet as I think it normally takes some time before it shows up..

Dave I did do a check also on the Madrid Protocol database and hotelsite is not in their database...

Comment #14

Adnt he sad part is, since it is a TM in GE, that could show "greater rights" to a name in a dispute...

Comment #15

Yah Yah Zum Teufel! I actually contacted the guy a while ago and told him if he can show me that he holds international or as you call it "Greater Rights" whatever I would gladly transfer him my domain and if he could not prove anything like that then he could aquire my domain if he is interested for Euro250. So far I never heard back from him. I actually regged my name a year before he applied for his TM.

And on a lighter note...check out this hilarious video of Adolf Hitler and his frustrations with Microsofts X-Box Games Console.

Comment #16

Here is an example of TMs for the same generic term for at least 2 different companies (this is where you can really clean up with an aftermarket domain sale!).

Apple - Computers.

Apple - Records (Beatles record label-owned by Michael Jackson/Sony).

So if you want to be covered, you should try for a worldwide TM. is for sale!..

Comment #17

Actually, you are incorrect. Michael owns the rights to the Beatles catalogue. Apple records is still owned by the Beatles (or their estates). Still scratching my head over that. Paul McCartney did try to by the catalogue back, but Michael would not sell...

Comment #18

I stand(wobbling) corrected.

I heard an interview with Paul related to this. When he and MJ were working on an album ("Say, Say, Say" is one of the songs I remember.) Michael asked Paul's advice on how to maximize his songs revenue. Paul told him to "keep the publishing...that is where the real money is" Michael turned to him and said, "I'm going to own your songs one day Paul." Paul laughed it off. Zoinks!..

Comment #19

I know we are going off-topic here, but that never stopped us before.

Here is a nice read on the Beatles/Jackson/Sony rights

Comment #20

This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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