ToldeoMenus.com is a generic term as far as I am concerned. GeoThing.com domains are very popular formats to develop and I don't see any way he can claim exclusive use to the term since it is being used for the obvious descriptive use.
Cool, he said I can use my old website toledo restaurant menus (dot) com with my current website but I just can't use the plural version of his site. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me but I needed to be reassured.
I mean when the old owner dropped my current domain name I had to pick it up because restaurant is an often misspelled term that hurt my website. I had an opportunity to pick up the same domain name without the restaurant in the middle, I jumped on it, I had too.
Thank you! Rep'd..
Playing "devil's advocate" here: In theory, his site name MIGHT be considered a suggestive mark (lawyers?) because it's a restaurant review site, not a posting of actual menus (which would be descriptive or generic use). Suggestive marks are stronger than generic or descriptive ones.
BUT, since it isn't a registered mark, I don't know how that holds up with common-law tm's. First use in commerce would come into play too.
It doesn't sound to me like he has a *strong* claim against you, but what do I know? If your business depends on it and you need a definitive answer, ask a real lawyer - not us "wannabes" ...
I am not even going to worry at this point because since neither of us have much traffic at this time he would have to prove harm. My thought is I am going to help him not hurt him but only time will tell. Has the owner or Car.com ever sued Cars.com? I think not.
Now if I had ToledoMenu.net...then he could have a beef with me...
Ok, this is a follow-up.....
He does not have the trademark, he does not have a business name in the state with that name. I registered my business name with the state as "Toledo Menus, LLC".
He trying to claim 'common law trademark'. I don't know what to do...at least now that I have an operating business with the name that he calls trademark infringment.
Advice is welcome...thank you.
Easy to answer... tell him to bugger off.
He has no case. Sure, he might huff and puff but he can't win if it goes to court - which it won't...
His claim has no merit from what I have read.
I agree and I think OP is TM infringing. It's going to depend on if he is serious or not. He doesn't have to be right to hire a lawyer and sue you. He has enough grounds to take you to court imho. If you both in Ohio it just makes things that much easier for him. Are you willing to hire a lawyer at the minimum $x,xxx expense to defend this?..
There really is no such thing as a purely generic or descriptive "mark", those are some of the main reasons TM's get turned down.
A suggestive mark is a mark that evokes or suggests a characteristic of the underlying good. For example, the word "Coppertone" is suggestive of sun-tan lotion, but does not specifically describe the underlying product. Some exercise of imagination is needed to associate the word with the underlying product. At the same time, however, the word is not totally unrelated to the underlying product. Like arbitrary or fanciful marks, suggestive marks are inherently distinctive and are given a high degree of protection. This doesn't even come close to that.
While the offending site that is trying to scare the OP into releasing his domain may be using "toledo menu" as a "review site" and has a chance to claim some level of TM (a slim to none chance IMO) the fact is that the OP is using his domain in a way that is completely descriptive and naturally generic from the literal reading of the name - i.e. actually displaying menus!.
Now, if his use is considered different, then there can be no infringement... but if the uses are considered the same (making them both merely generic or descriptive) - there can be no TM... so, again, there can be no infringement. Either way, the OP keeps his name.
That's just my opinion.
I did play a lawyer on tv once.....