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Say an established generic term is used to describe an organization like:.

"MHA" (Mens Hair Association, whatever... etc... etc...).

Say there is an MHA(dot)com dedicated to this?.

Would it be unlawful/unethical to pickup the or even to develop or use in a similar manner regarding a similar topic?.

This is NOT a product. This is a service related site.

I'm a bit confused by all of this and I figured that maybe some of you good folks would shine some light on this for me?.


Comments (10)

If they actually use MHA as their TM, then yes. "Men's Hair Association" isn't generic imho...

Doing business under the same name as a TM owner is a big no no...

Comment #1


Thanks for your response... I totally understand your point and agree... The problem that I am having is that I don't know if my example was a good one??? (Men's Hair Association may not have been the right example to use!).

Let's use a few everyday real estate acronyms like "ARM" (known to some as Adjustable Rate Mortgage) or "FSBO" (known to some as For Sale By Owner)... or "LTV" (known to some as Loan To Value).

Are those types of terms "specific" to a brand - so much as they are commonly used to describe a general product or service???.

For example - if I was to register and develop "armrates(dot)info" into an adjustable rate mortgage listing site and "armrates(dot)com" already existed -would I be crossing the line here?.

It's a strange thing b/c now that I have gotten to start buying some names - I don't want to do the wrong thing! (It's definitely NOT always easy to know what the right thing is though!!!)..

Comment #2

Thank you Weblord!!!.

Should I enter a query as "xxx"??? OR ""???..

Comment #3

Try both.

Based on your example, common acronyms for descriptive terms should be fine. I would be very surprised if the .com was able to TM something like that.

Your example of armrates-info should be fine as you would be providing adjustable rate mortgage rates. Its publicly available information, and the terms are descriptive...

Comment #4


There is no easy answer to your questions (probably why you're asking them!) Trademarks are a complex issue. This has been discussed thoroughly in many threads on NamePros. Do a search for "trademarks" to begin the fun.

In a nut-shell, practically any set of characters may be trademarked. Even very common words. Take "Windows" for instance. It is a common English word, but it is also trademarked. You could also trademark the word "windows" if you use it in a totally unrelated industry. Usage and intent is more important than the actual wording.

If you used a domain like to sell ostrich feathers, you will likely be safe, even if Mens Hair Association has MHA trademarked.

The best advice I can give is to either stay away from anything that looks like a trademark issue, OR hire an attorney to give you advice.

Good luck!..

Comment #5

Try the first one I assume it's still unregged of course...

Comment #6

Thanks for all of your great responses...

Flamewalker - The ".com" is in fact already taken! - I am looking into either the .info, .org, or maybe even .tv....

Gene - you make a lot of sense... I just get hung-up on the whole "is it REALLY generic" angle of this question???.

I suppose that my question really boils down to whether or not a commonly used business "acronym" is an automatic no-no to use and market in a "similar manner" but in a different extension?.

Either way - I thank each and every one of you for taking a moment to share your thoughts and experience with me!!!..

Comment #7

What if you are not from the USA? Does that mean people outside the US should search the USA trademark archive, just their countries, or every big international power's individual trademark archieve? Does .com assume USA? Also what if you live in a country that's not a big international power?.

(for a related discussion in the forum check out, and especially jberryhill's post about the Brazil case).

I'm assuming google and checking the first 3 pages or so, the USA one (but if there's a TM'd name you can still get the .com as long as it is in an unrelated field, and not just parked or to sell back to the company) and your own countries.

Any other views?..

Comment #8

Trademarks distinguish the goods or services of one party from another in the marketplace.

SCUBA is an acronym (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus).

Is the word "scuba" associated with one source of goods or services in the diving market? No.

Same for RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging).

I like scuba and radar, because they are such common "words" that many people do not know they originated as acronyms.

So, taking some of your examples. If you see ten different banks offering an ARM loan, then you have a pretty good indication that ARM does not designate a loan originating with a particular source, but it is a generic indicator of a type of loan offered by many different sources...

Comment #9

Also, as I have been corrected on a few times, generic isn't technically the correct term... Descriptive is more accurate. Such as apple describes a fruit, but isn't really generic per se. Descriptive terms used for their dictionary meaning are nearly unprotectable/un-tm'able... notice I said nearly..

Comment #10

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


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