A U.S. federal appeals court said "AOL Inc cann't block Advertise.com Inc from using that name on the ground its similarity to its own Advertising.com mark will confuse Internet users. The U.S. Ninth Circuit of Court in Appeals reversed a lower court ruling in AOL's favor, accepting Advertise.com's argument that "Advertising.com" mark is generic enough not to warrant protection."
"A mark isn't descriptive merely because it conveys some minimal information about a product or service," Judge Betty Fletcher wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. "If all it describes is the common name of the product or service, it's not protectable as a trademark."
She added the term Advertising.com conveys "only the generic nature" of the services offered and that it's "certainly highly unlikely that consumer surveys or other evidence might ultimately demonstrate that AOL's mark is valid and protectable."
The case is Advertise.com Inc v. AOL Advertising Inc et al, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 10-55069 and 10-55071.