Booking.com Wins Supreme Court Case to Trademark Its Name

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the 8-1 decision

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Key insight:

The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with the online travel site Booking.com in a ruling that will allow the brand to trademark its name.

Booking.com was originally denied the trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office under the argument that “booking” was too broad and general of a term for a trademark. But after the ruling, Booking.com is now allowed to hold the trademark of its name, so long as there’s a “.com” at the end of it.

The decision opens the door for brands that also feature “generic” names, such as Cars.com and Dictionary.com, to now apply for trademarks.

Businesses vying for broad trademarks have a long, litigious history in the annals of brand marketing. In 1987, McDonald’s tried to trademark the term “Mc” to no avail, and in 2017, General Mills brand Cheerios tried to trademark its signature hue of yellow, which also failed.

“A generic name—the name of a class of products or services—is ineligible for federal trademark registration,” the decision, penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reads. “We have no cause to deny Booking.com the same benefits Congress accorded other marks qualifying as nongeneric.”

Ultimately, eight justices decided that the brand’s name was worthy of a trademark. Justice Stephen Breyer was the lone dissent.

The decision was first reported by the Associated Press.


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@RyanBarwick ryan.barwick@adweek.com Ryan is a brand reporter covering travel, mobility and sports marketing.