Generally Generic: Court Rejects Trademark Request For Mattress.com

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A federal appeals court has rejected an attempt by bedding retailer 1800Mattress.com to trademark the term Mattress.com.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit found that the term was too generic to be trademarked. The ruling upheld an earlier determination by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

1800Mattress had argued that the only generic term for its business was "online mattress stores," but the appellate court disagreed. "Any term that the relevant public understands to refer to the genus of 'online retail store services in the field of mattresses, beds, and bedding' is generic," the appellate court wrote.

The appellate court also specifically endorsed the board's conclusion that the public at large believes that Mattress.com signifies any online mattress seller, as opposed to 1800Mattress.com.

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In addition, the court rejected the bedding company's argument that it should be able to trademark the term because some sites use Mattress.com in their domain names but don't sell mattresses online.

The court also rebuffed 1800Mattress's assertion that Mattress.com wasn't generic because the "com" in the domain name stood for comfort. "Substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that the ".com" tail in Mattress.com does not evoke the quality of comfort in mattresses," the court wrote. "Dial-A-Mattress presented no evidence that the relevant public finds such a double entendre in the term Mattress.com."

In a similar case, the appellate court recently ruled that Hotels.com is too generic to be trademarked.

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