Recent Case Notes & Commentary

Justice Ginsburg’s Key Decision on Domain Name Trademarks


Photo: Agence France Presse

We at Domain Times wish to pay our respects and gratitude to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


Justice Ginsburg had an impactful judicial legacy, across a widespread range of legal areas. Well known for her contributions to developing rights and equality across the US, her expertise even touched the realm of domain name disputes.


One of Justice Ginsburg’s final cases in the US Supreme Court was United States Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., decided in June 2020.

This case upheld the importance of consumer perception in establishing a trademark for a generic word.

The key factor in this case was the inclusion of the top-level domain (‘.com’) as a deliberate part of the company’s branding - that is, it was not any significance of the generic word ‘booking’ alone, but the well-known reputation and recognition of the term ‘Booking.com’ as a brand which made it eligible for a trademark.

This emphasis on consumer perception evidence is expected to have a positive impact for many brands seeking a trademark for similarly generic phrases in the future.

Though perhaps a drop in the ocean of her decisions and dissents, the Booking.com decision nonetheless joins the ranks of Justice Ginsburg’s lasting influence.