Does Competitive Forecasting belong to NewsFutures? Posted on October 24, 2008 by admin I’-d say no, but I could be damn wrong.Where is Tom W. Bell when we need him? Related PostsCompetitive Forecasting (the brand which NewsFutures Emile Servan-Schreiber is so sanguine about) is probably more than a generic mark, it might well be a descriptive mark -provided X, Y and Z.Toward Info Accounting In Competitive ForecastingeLab eXchange – Which real estate search site will see the most traffic?
It’s pretty clear that NewsFutures invented the term back in 2006 to refer to a specific new collective prediction tool it started fielding at the time as an alternative to “prediction markets”.
Congrats for being a pioneer.
But that’s only one aspect of the problematic.
Let’s say a company has “invented” this term, and is using it to describe a product.
Now, let’s say that scholars and people are now using this term to describe a class of products.
Then, that company would lose its trademark (registered or not).
If it’s a common term, then it can’t be a trademark.
That’s why I have always advised businesses to register trademarks that are not generic. Non-generic trademarks (”Nike”, “Apple”, “Philips”, “HubDub”, etc.) are more difficult to establish at first, but, long term, they win over weaker brands.
I’m right here, Chris–a loyal reader!
My two cents on “competitive forecasting”: It probably rises above a merely generic mark, which could never be protected, because it is not the commonplace name for the service to which it refers. It more likely qualifies as a descriptive mark, and as such could be protected only if “secondary meaning” were proven. In other words, the claimant would have to show that by dint of long exposure to its use in a commercial context, consumers had come to understand the mark not as a mere description but as the name of the claimant’s service. Whether or not “competitive forecasting” can meet that test remains a question of fact, of course.
Caveat: I speak only of U.S. law, though most common law countries follow similar principles.
Very interesting comment, thanks a lot.