Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"NETENTERPRISE" Generic For An Internet Business, Says TTAB

Honolulu-based NetEnterprise, Inc. was left stranded on the TTABeach by the Board's affirmance of a refusal to register NETENTERPRISE on the Supplemental Register: the Board found the term generic for Internet businesses, including Applicant's services of providing Internet access for businesses. In re NetEnterprise, Inc., Serial No. 76219917 (April 20, 2005) [not citable].

The Examining Attorney relied on dictionary definitions and Internet and Nexis excerpts in contending that registration of the term "would prevent applicant's competitors from adequately describing their own such services." (TTABlog comment: hinder maybe, but not prevent).

Applicant conceded that "net enterprise" is generic for a "generic" business providing services over the Internet. However, it asserted that the 80-90% of the Google hits for the single compound word "netenterprise" referred to Applicant's company, and further that its services are specifically those of a "hosting data center," for which "netenterprise" is not generic.

Internet access

The Board found the genus of the services at issue to be "providing Internet access for businesses," and concluded that "net enterprise" is generic for a business operation conducted over the Internet, of which Applicant's business is an example. See In re Central Sprinkler, 49 USPQ2d 1194 (TTAB 1998)[ATTIC generic for automatic sprinklers for fire protection.]

As to the Google hits for "netenterprise," the Board found it "perhaps not surprising that when one searches 'netenterprise' as a single run-together term on Google, many of the hits will be to applicant's trade name." Moreover, a misspelling of a generic term (here, elimination of the space) "does not change the generic significance to the purchaser."

TTABlog comment: For a case in which an Applicant smartly overcame a genericness refusal, see the VIRUSSCAN decision, blogged here.

Text ©John L. Welch 2005. All Rights Reserved.


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