Monday, June 23, 2008

On Summary Judgment, TTAB Finds "BRIDGELOAN.COM" to be Generic for Commercial Lending Services

Granting a motion for summary judgment, the Board not surprisingly found the term BRIDGELOAN.COM to be generic for "financial services, namely commercial lending services," and ordered Respondent's registration cancelled. East West Bank v. BridgeLoan Investors, Inc., Cancellation No. 92047561 (June 13, 2008) [not precedential].

News articles submitted by Petitioner demonstrated that the term "is used in the financial industry and would be perceived by the relevant public, namely potential buyers bridge loans, as a short-term loan." In addition, Petitioner submitted dictionary definitions of "bridge loan" and third-party registrations in which "bridge loan" appears in the recitation of services.

Registrant lamely argued that the term BRIDGELOAN.COM "at most, merely suggests that it is a website and that respondent provides services relating to financial services." It further contended that "there is no clear meaning of BRIDGELOAN.COM that would indicate to a potential consumer the nature of the services with which it is used."

Respondent also pointed to its ownership of a Principal Registration for the mark BRIDGELOAN INVESTORS in which "bridgeloan" is not disclaimed and for which Section 2(f) was not invoked. The Board, however, observed that "addition of the word 'investors' in the mark imbues it with a connotation that, rather than primarily describe the genus of the services, may instead merely name the target audience." In any event, the Board noted, each case must be decided on its own merits.

Citing several of its ".com" precedents, the Board ruled that :

"The separate words 'bridge' and 'loan' when joined to form a compound term, have the same meaning that common usage would ascribe to the two words used separately, and the '.com' portion does not create source-identifying significance when appended to this generic term."

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2008.


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