Fundr: limited claim trade name right

Many companies assume that the use of a trading name or a domain name is sufficient to make a broad claim on the exclusive right to that name. These assumptions can prove painfully wrong. Since 2016, a company named Funding Innovation (later “Funder Inc.”) has been using the name FUNDR as a trade name and domain name. The company provides consulting services in the field of corporate funding and government grants.

To protect its name & goodwill, it later files a trademark for the name, but not for the logo. There is a risk in this, and this comes true when the trademark register refuses registration of the word mark, because this is seen as too descriptive.

That same year, Rabobank launches an online credit application service called FUNDR. The bank files the logo as a trademark immediately. When Funding Innovation opposes this application on the basis of its trade name, its opposition is rejected. Rabobank offers its services under the name Rabobank (therefore there is no trade name infringement).

Rabobank uses the name FUNDR as a service mark. A descriptive trade name provides very limited protection. Both the services and the way in which Rabobank reaches out to its public are different.

Result: the claims is rejected. At the end of the day, if Funding Innovation immediately would have applied for the combined logo as a trademark and not just the word mark, this case could have ended completely differently.

tradenames



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PURE - MENTOS

MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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