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Martindale-Hubbell’s lacks ‘distinctiveness’

April 12, 2007

That’s the finding of the U.S. Court of Appeals, as reported by Bloomberg’s Susan Decker, in upholding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of Martindale’s bid to trademark the phrase

Martindale has run, a consumer and small business lawyer directory website since 1998. It’s been seeking trademark protection since then to limit others from using the name to confuse consumers.

The Patent Office found the phrase, ‘’ was generic, pointing out that others use variations, such as, and Martindale argued that its ‘’ had `acquired distinctiveness.’

The Court of Appeals disagreed. “For better or worse, lawyers are necessarily an integral part of the information exchange about legal services.”

Thanks to patent lawyer Dennis Crouch for word of the decision.

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